by Stephanie McDonald

New program launched to support women in ICT

Mar 29, 20123 mins

A new program has been launched by the Mastermind Group to support women entering leadership roles in the Australian ICT industry.

Mastermind Smart Girls is encouraging flexible working hours for women in project management and business analysis roles and aims to create pathways for women to re-enter the workforce after taking time out to have a family.

Fulvio Inserra, managing director of The Mastermind Group, told CIO Australia that women brought many skills to the industry including the ability to “humanise” ICT and develop trust between the IT department and the rest of the businesses.

However, numerous barriers remain to women entering ICT, Inserra said. These include the way in which ICT is portrayed as a highly technical industry requiring in-depth technical knowledge — a major deterrent to women undertaking ICT study at a university level.

Inflexible working hours is another barrier. One way this can be tackled, according to Inserra, is for companies to consider placing two part-time project managers on the one job.

“So if a project or a customer needs a project manager, instead of looking for specific project managers they should be looking for a project management service which allows us to put up to two part-time women onto a project,” Inserra said.

“…you’ll get fantastic handover because communication will be great and the customer will get a better outcome because they don’t have a single point of failure with the project manager.”

Whether companies take up the idea of having two project managers on the one project is uncertain.

“It’s the preparedness to want to work in that way where we as an organisation would take on the accountability for variables to make sure it would happen,” Inserra explains.

“We’ve got a sophisticated resource project management system behind the scenes where we would manage all of the projects and resources and make sure that project milestones are met, that any project needs are attended and there is necessary handover from one to the other.

“We want to evolve to that point very, very quickly and I think it’s an education within the [industry] itself. As IT becomes more of a service [and] as cloud [puts more on] IT demand as a service, there’s no [reason] why project management can’t be done in that way.”

Inserra said business analysis services can also be adequately managed by two part-time employees.

Encouraging and supporting more women to enter and stay in the industry can also fill the skills shortage, according to Inserra. The key to successfully doing this is to first pinpoint exactly which disciplines of ICT have a shortage, he said.

“If people are saying there’s a skill shortage, call it out and say ‘what specifically about ICT is there a skills shortage about?’ I’m sick and tired of the argument being blanketed across the whole industry when there are specific roles that are being well looked after and there are roles in ICT that aren’t being addressed,” Inserra said.

However, he said there are a number of female CIOs which he deals with and opportunities do exist for women who want to advance through the management ranks in ICT, with project management roles and middle management positions seeing an increase in female participation.

“The few women that are successful in the IT industry, they are starting to get to that middle layer up to the CIO-type level – we are seeing some successes there,” Inserra said.