Lack of awareness about IT careers is main deterrence for women: Go Girl

The Victorian ICT for Women Network is holding a bi-annual two-day IT careers expo — Go Girl, Go for IT — in June this year which is designed to help entice more female students in Years 8-11 to pursue a career in IT by exposing them to diverse roles in the industry.

Go Girl will feature speakers from within the industry, and will hold workshops and interactive exercises to educate students about working in IT.

The network was established in response to the declining number of females studying business/IT or IT at a tertiary level.

Sharon Carpenter, voluntary Go Girl head of communications committee, told CIO Australia that a lack of awareness about IT careers was the biggest deterrence to females entering the field.

“They’re not aware that a technology role might include being a graphical designer or a graphical artist or working on systems that are significant from a medical point of view.”

This lack of awareness has led some to question the legitimacy of a career in IT, according to Carpenter.

“Outside of the IT industry, and this is a big myth, [IT is] still not considered as a professional career,” she said.

“It’s a job… Even though we’re paid as well as doctors and lawyers, [women are] not really aware of that.”

Carpenter said the “typical stereotypes” of those who work in information technology is another reason why IT may not be a popular career choice among young women.

“It’s not cool to be a nerd,” she said.

Carpenter added that the intimidation young women may feel about working in a still male-dominated sector could also be a possible hindrance to entry.

Carpenter attributes the disparity between people’s perceptions of an IT career with reality to minimal technology exposure in school.

“Exposure to the tech world in school [has been] minimal,” she said.

“Thinking back to someone I spoke to who was in Year 9, IT was considered one of the things they spent three months learning about was how to touch type. That’s not technology, that’s not learning about computers and how they work, why they’re important, and the difference that technology makes in people’s lives.”

Go Girl is free and will be held at Deakin University, Burwood campus on 18-19 June 2012.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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