By Daniel Hunter

Just 18% of directors of Silicon Roundabout technology companies are women, according to professional services consultancy Procorre.

The figure significantly lower than the representation of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies, where 24% of directors are women, just one percentage point below the government's target of 25%.

Procorre said although it is recognised that women are underrepresented in the sector, the figures demonstrate the scale of the issue and the huge effort that is needed to address the problem. There are less women in senior levels than across the industry as a whole: women make up 27% of the total digital workforce, down from 33% in 2002.

To ensure that women are better represented at top levels in this crucial, high-growth sector, new measures may need to be considered, the firm said. These could include a self-imposed target for the industry, similar to the target for the FTSE 100, and initiatives to dispel the misconception that start-up and high growth tech companies are hostile to female employees.

Wiktor Podgorski, Contracts & HR Manager at Procorre, said: “There is undoubtedly a shortage of female graduates with the right qualifications to go into the digital industries, but the gender gap in Silicon Roundabout cannot be explained by that alone.

“Women make up 38% of maths graduates, which could easily be a stepping stone into a career in software development. But in fact, only half of female graduates of science, technology, engineering (STEM) subjects go into STEM careers, compared with 68% of their male peers from the same courses. Technology-based industries seem to be unable to attract the female talent available, and we have to look at the reasons why.

“Self-imposed targets seem to be working in the FTSE 100 — they could also help the tech sector to raise its game.

“For Silicon Roundabout’s concentration of high growth companies, there is also a need to reassure women that they are not hostile places to work.”