Accountancy firm PwC has unveiled a major initiative to boost the number of women pursuing technology careers and tackle the obstacles that stand in the way.

The accountancy firm has launched the 'Tech She Can Charter' with 18 major organisations including Tesco, NatWest, Girlguiding, Sophos and the British Science Association, with more expected to sign up.

The main purpose of the initiative is to create the right environment to attract, recruit and retain more women in tech.

It focuses on building the talent pipeline at school level through direct contact and developing technology toolkits. 

"Waiting until women are entering work is simply too late - to boost the number of females in technology we need to take coordinated action to start inspiring girls to consider technology careers while they are still at school," said Sheridan Ash, women in tech leader at PwC and founder of the Tech She Can Charter.

"By working together we can reach more females at an earlier stage of their lives. We need to work harder to raise awareness about the exciting range of technology roles out there, in a sector that has the power to change the world.

"Promoting visible and relatable role models is a huge part of this, as it's hard for girls to aspire to be something they can't see.

"There are many brilliant women working in technology roles right across the UK, from creatives and designers, to coders and data scientists. Technology is open to all and we need to get that message across."

The launch has also been backed by digital minister Margot James.

She added: "We want to be at the forefront of tackling the gender imbalance in the tech workforce and make sure the fantastic opportunities on offer are available to everyone.

"The whole UK government has recently signed the Tech Talent Charter, which focuses on increasing the gender diversity of those already working in tech roles, and we welcome PwC's new initiative to target and inspire the talent of tomorrow."

Other founding signatories include Business 3.0, Digital Jam, everywoman, FDisruptors, InnovateHer, JP Morgan, Modern Muse, money.co.uk, Smoothwall, TechGirls, Tech Talent Charter, T Systems and Zoopla Property Group.

The Tech She Can Charter was created following research carried out by PwC into the reasons why females aren’t going into technology careers.

It revealed that just over a quarter (27 per cent) of females say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62 per cent of males – and only 3 per cent of females say it is their first choice of career.

The reasons why female students aren't considering technology roles include: because no one is putting it forward as an option to them, they aren't given enough information at school about what working in technology involves, and a lack of female role models.