Closing the Gap in Female Representation


To celebrate International Women's Day we've been posting a variety of content on how to get more women into GovTech including launching the first episode of our Women in GovTech series with Rachael Grimaldi. While analysing some of the numbers behind the gap in female representation we thought it was only fair that we were transparent about our own gender diversity at PUBLIC. In this blog post our COO Hanna Johnson outlines some of the statistics on female representation within our accelerator programme GovStart, as well as within the PUBLIC team itself.This time last year, the cancellation of our International Women’s Day event was the first business impact that we felt at PUBLIC. I could never have imagined when we cancelled that event that another International Women’s Day would come around before we had an opportunity to rearrange it. The past year has been hard for us all, whether juggling WFH space in a flatshare, or dealing with isolation living alone, but the impact on working parents has surely been most stark, with homeschooling and increased childcare responsibilities landing overnight, an impact disproportionately felt by women.The past year has also been one in which many have focused anew on diversity and inclusion, PUBLIC has been no exception. As part of our diversity and inclusion focus in the last half of 2020, we looked at how representation of women in GovTech compares to Government. Based on our research, only 19 of the 100 fastest growing GovTech companies have a female founder. This level of representation is far behind the standards in the civil service, where around 45% of leadership roles are filled by women. That’s a gap that we can all work to close, encouraging and supporting more female entrepreneurs.We at PUBLIC know that we have a role to play here. We focus already on securing diverse founder representation in our accelerator programmes, and have seen the proportion of startups on the programme with at least one female founder grow from 25% last year to 33% this year. We will continue to double down on that, and we also actively encourage partners that we work with to do the same. We are also working on our own representation. Over the past few years, we have gradually built not only our female representation (47% of our workforce is female, up from 43% this time last year), but also the profile of that representation. 36% of the women in our organisation are now in senior roles, compared to 15% last year. That’s progress, but it’s certainly not a finished job. We still have only 29% of senior roles in our organisation filled by women - up from 20% in 2020, but still further from parity than we would like.

For any organisation looking at gender parity, leaders have to dig into the reasons why. For us, I think we do well identifying and attracting female talent at junior levels, but we haven’t had that same focus or success for senior roles. We have a clear focus as an organisation for 2021-22 on developing our existing female team and bringing in more senior female talent, and I am grateful that we are in a position to do so, since we are now hiring in several areas of the business to support our growing transformation practice, our business development team and a new role working with me in operations to focus on Talent acquisition and management. We want to continue to be transparent about our progress here, and to work with the GovTech community to close the gap in female representation. We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas - please get in touch.


Hanna Johnson
Chief Operating Officer

Sep 20, 2021