A new report by Tech Nation indicates that the demand for digital skills is such that the average advertised salary is more than 1/3 higher than the national average. While that's good news for the sector, it also throws into sharp relief the dispiriting statistics on women in technology - it's estimated that only 17% of people working in the sector are women. Closing (or at least narrowing) the gender pay gap may become an impossible goal if women are under-represented in a highly-paid and growing sector.
But what can tech companies do to attract female candidates? Are suitable candidates just not out there? There isn't an instant cure, and there's certainly a pressing need to ensure that female students aren't put off studying the STEM subjects that give them the skills for these jobs in the first place. But there are also things that tech businesses can do. The Tech Talent Charter http://media.newjobs.com/mm/uken/emails/2015_graphics/B2B_UK_TTC/TECHTALENT_CHARTER_v.IV_Nov_2015.pdf has some very useful suggestions. For example, look out for gender-coded language in job adverts ("rockstar coder" springs to mind) and think about how adverts can be framed in a way which doesn't put off female candidates.
Another key principle of the Charter is that tech companies should take active steps to monitor diversity in their organisations and publish anonymised data. That chimes with Government plans to introduce compulsory gender pay gap reporting for larger companies this year. The experience of businesses which report on a voluntary basis is that reporting such data enables the business to identify where it needs to take action.
A more controversial question is how far businesses should take positive steps to appoint and promote female candidates. UK discrimination law only allows sex (or another "protected characteristic") to be taken into account in recruitment decisions in very limited circumstances, and these provisions are little used. Positive action to attract female applicants (or those from other under-represented groups) is less risky.
None of these strategies is a cure-all, but with ever-increasing public scrutiny of diversity in tech, action may well be necessary if women aren't to be left behind.
According to the Tech Nation 2016 report, the average advertised salary in digital roles is just under £50,000, 36% higher than the national average. The advertised pay for such jobs grew by 13% between 2012 and 2015.