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Women in IT – what you need to know as an employer

There are still some industries in which women are yet to be afforded an equivalent level of respect

The role of women in the business environment has metamorphosed over the past few years. While women were previously considered unsuitable for executive roles or dismissed into stereotypical categorisations in business, the modern working woman is afforded an equal status in terms of respect, accolades and gravitas; however, there are still some industries in which women are yet to be afforded an equivalent level of respect.

While feminism is still an issue in that females occupying leading senior roles are greatly outnumbered by males in the same occupations, and the proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ is still in evidence, there is no doubt that equality has progressed significantly. Amendments to legislation affording women equal rights has done much to ensure that people are not sidelined or discriminated against as a result of their sex when it comes to carving out a decent career within the business environment; however, it seems that the IT industry could be lagging behind when it comes to catching up with modern views on equality, gender balance and career progression for women.

According to a recent prediction by Deloitte, less than one-quarter of all IT jobs will be held by females by the end of the year. This figure is damning in that it is a lower estimate than that achieved by women in 2015, which suggests that gender disparity in the IT industry is becoming more pronounced rather than improving.

What are the factors influencing this rather depressing picture of inequality in the IT industry? Research suggests that the issue is multi-faceted and requires a series of adjustments if the gender equality in the IT industry is to be effectively addressed.

Key issues impacting the number of women applying and being recruited for IT roles seem to originate in traditional gender stereotypes, which are then compounded by limited career progression for females; for example, less than 20% of all IT students across the US are female, meaning that there will be 60% more males than females qualified to apply for every IT job advertised.

Similarly, it appears that retention of female workers is a significant issue. Statistics demonstrate that female workers within the IT industry are much more likely to leave their role. Whether this is due to pregnancy or simply a realisation that the role is not providing career satisfaction, it is clear that some significant changes need to be made to address this gender imbalance.

Across all industries, women are being recognised and valued for their skills, abilities and tenacity. It could well be time for the IT industry to take notice of the inequality affecting the sector and implement effective strategies for attracting females to the industry and giving them the skills, support and recognition required to forge longstanding and successful careers.

Without a significant culture change across the IT sector, this gender imbalance will only increase. As any self-respecting business understands, it would be a huge loss to the sector to miss out on the positive attributes and strengths that a truly equal workforce provides.

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