BOSSES in the digital sector are struggling to recruit more women, after a report highlighted a “worrying” lack of diversity at senior level.

A report from the agency Inclusive Boards found women made up less than 13 per cent of board members in the industry.

Rob Rutherford, chief executive of Bournemouth IT business QuoStar, said a tiny proportion of job applications were from women.

“For any technical role we get, if we get one in 100, we’re very lucky,” he said.

“We would positively discriminate to try and create some balance and diversity in the department but we just don’t get women coming through.

“Even if I go back to my university days, in a class of 24 you might have one or two women. I know that’s the same now but also the problem is the number of university courses in IT has dramatically dropped.”

Diana Parkes, founder of the Women’s Sat Nav to Success Survey report, which is sponsored by LV=, said: “The bottom line is that women’s contributions are recognised and valued significantly less than men’s and this is at its worst in the tech sector, where it causes a loss of engagement in 34.2 per cent of women and loss of motivation to progress in 26.9 per cent of women.”

She said this could lead to women under-valuing their own worth and being reluctant to enter the sector. “Tech companies need to learn to listen to and value the contributions of all employees if they are serious about wanting to perform at their peak,” she added.

Gender balance in the UK workforce would add around £150billion to annual gross domestic product, she said.

Rebecca Hannam, who developed the app Roostr to match care staff with vacancies, said: “Throughout the software development process every person I’ve had engagement with has been male – from designers to software developers to IT and analytical support.

“I’m lucky in that I’ve been taken seriously in a very male dominated sector, but I’ve had to rely on these men to take the technology side away from me as I’m not an expert in this area. I’m the instigator and business manager - sometimes we need to accept that often men and women’s brains work in different ways and that is the reason for this gender imbalance.

“Jobs should be filled on merit, strengths and passion for the subject in question and if this naturally results in a lack of diversity, is this a negative or because the most suitable people are in the job?

“Why are 80 per cent of care sector jobs filled with women? Because they naturally gravitate to these roles more than men.”

Hayley O’Shea, marketing manager at Talbot Heath School, said the school had devised a tech curriculum for its girls, starting from age three. “The skills and confidence they gather on the way and the empowerment we generate inspire them to aim to be leaders too,” she said.

Emma Kirby-Kidd, Bournemouth-based process automation lead at insurer Ageas in the UK, said: “I have quite an equal split in my robotic automation team but we women are the ones leading the way.”