What young people think happens behind the scenes of the UK’s digital sector has been revealed thanks to a study from Bath-based Institute of Coding. In a nationwide poll of 16 – 18-year-olds, more than half (56%) said the industry needs to be more diverse and inclusive.

Painting a picture of a seemingly un-diverse digital workforce, 71% of youth surveyed think the industry is made up of people solely identifying as heterosexual and 83% believe it’s led by men. Further, more than two thirds (70%) believe it’s run entirely by those that are of white, British ethnicity, and over a third (34%) think there are unequal opportunities for women. One in ten admits they are actively discouraged from pursuing digital education or jobs due to the lack of people they see that represent them.

Echoing the need for more diverse role models in tech, Mark Zuckerberg was revealed as young people’s top tech icon (21%), followed by Jeff Bezos (10%). And 41% said there’s a lack of female role models in the industry.

The results are important because they suggest that the next generation of talent is being put off digital education and careers before they even start. The IoC is responding to this problem by announcing a new campaign, called CTRL Your Future, aiming to shift the dial on diversity and inclusion in digital across the UK.

As part of the campaign, the IoC will champion a cross-section of diverse people making waves in digital and rebooting the face of the industry along the way.

Jaqueline de Rojas CBE, Co-Chair of the IoC says, “While some of these opinions echo what many people in the industry may already feel – what’s shocking is that these are the perceptions of young people who’ve yet to step foot in the industry. A reboot of our system starts with welcoming a fresh, more diverse cross-section of talent through the doors, andCTRL Your Future will unveil just a few of the trailblazers across gaming, fashion and design who are already helping to reshape industry – calling on the next generation to get involved.”

CTRL Your Future will first partner with DIGI-GXL. Led by Cat Taylor, DIGI-GXL is an inclusive community supporting women, trans and non-binary people looking to reshape the world of 3D digital fashion design – seen through recent collaborations with Selfridges and Adidas.

Other partners will include London Gaymers, the UK’s biggest LGBTQ+ gamer community providing a safe and inclusive space for gamers and the STEMettes, the social enterprise inspiring young women to pursue a career in STEM founded by Anne-Marie Imafidon.

Events, inspiring workshops and short films will be rolled out over the next several months, unveiling the diverse face of the industry, showing the real, creative opportunities that exist through emerging tech and placing a call out for more young people to get involved.

With university courses now open for applications, please visit https://instituteofcoding.org/for more information about CTRL Your Future and the IoC.