by Rebecca Merrett

IT gender imbalance getting worse

Jul 09, 20143 mins

The technology industry’s gender imbalance is getting worse with a new study finding there has been a 27 per cent decrease in female IT workers since 2010.

The survey – conducted with 2,928 participants by IT recruiter Greythorn – shows that men outweigh women in the Australian IT industry by about five to one (84 per cent male IT workers versus 16 per cent female).

When comparing the same survey conducted in 2010/11, the ratio was 78 per cent male to 22 per cent female. Further, women only make up 12 per cent of people who work in IT management and high level roles.

Educating the educators about the opportunities and wide range of roles within IT is what’s needed most, said Fi Slaven, GM at William Buck and board member for Victorian ICT for Women Network.

“The aim is to educate not only the girls, but the schools, teachers, career advisors, parents and significant others on why IT is a great choice. These people influence career choices for all and I don’t believe people understand what IT can involve and so they don’t consider it as a good career choice.

“What other career can you name, that is universally recognised, paid well, is included in every industry, has a growing need and can involve travel?”

CIO Australia spoke with an IT graduate earlier this year about her experience talking with a careers advisor in high school. She said the careers advisor told her that going into an IT-related field is too hard and advised that something like nursing or teaching would be a more comfortable fit for her.

Meanwhile, 56 per cent of participants also believe there’s a gender pay gap when it comes to working in IT, which is not surprising as the survey shows number of women obtaining top roles is not close to the number of males moving up to the higher ranks.

The research shows flexible working conditions is what most women consider important in a company. The ability to alter start and finish times, work remotely and maternity leave options are important factors that women think about in their jobs, the recruiter said.

The research also found more women are doing part-time or contract-based employment compared to men.

“Position advertisements are often written in a manner that encourages men to apply. Advertised roles will identify the benefits, money and travel and yet they may not be a high priority for women. For example, training and flexible work hours may be more suitable,” said Slaven.

“Currently, women are being offered far more interviews, as many organisations are demanding equality in the numbers presented to them. However, I don’t believe the number of roles being awarded to women are increasing.”

Slaven said organisations need to analyse their methods for attracting and retaining women into IT roles, the same way an analysis is done when profit is down.

“Let’s get IT groups and the industry working together to achieve not only encouraging women to select IT as a career, but also methods for retaining and promoting them, once they are there.”