The gender gap continues to pervade the IT and technology. This trend is slowly being reversed, but more needs to be done.
Yesterday, a report was released by Experis that confirmed diversity was still an issue in the boardroom: with 87% of CIOs surveyed found to be male.
This issue is one Information Age feels passionately about, which is why we host the annual Women in IT Awards. It is a chance to celebrate women in the sector and promote much needed diversity.
To learn more about the gender gap within the IT industry IA spoke to Geoff Smith, MD at Experis UK & Ireland (the company that commissioned the gender report) about inherent problems and potential solutions.
Why is there a wider issue of gender diversity in the IT and tech sector?
As Experis’ research highlights – more needs to be done to encourage women into these roles.
However, the issue must be tackled earlier on, to inspire girls from a young age to consider a career in IT or tech. Our society traditionally encouraged males into science and engineering and females into more humanities or arts roles, and this evolutionary shift unfortunately takes time to change.
What can be done to address this issue?
Traditional perceptions need challenging, starting in early education (or even earlier!) and continuing throughout our careers.
In addition, the opportunities that the tech industry offers – it’s innovative, fast-paced, exciting and stimulating – need to be better communicated to women and girls from a young age, so they aren’t routed down paths that are less tech-focused when it comes to their studies and future careers.
Everyone is responsible for addressing the issue, from the government, businesses and the wider tech industry to parents, families and peer groups.
Instead of dwelling on the challenges that getting ‘to the top’ in IT or tech may present, the opportunities need to be communicated, to get more women and young girls interested in science, engineering and tech in the first place.
Helping them to develop curiosity and a hunger to learn about new technologies is equally important too.
Why is it important to address the gap – what will the benefits bring?
Diversity helps to ensure a broader perspective for an organisation – helping it to align its key objectives more closely to its target audience that will often be very diverse in nature itself.
Having a wide range of views (and skills) means that businesses are prepared for whatever comes next, whether considering cyber security risks, digital transformation opportunities or even having a balanced perspective when it comes to what employees need and want.
Without stereotyping, women tend to be more relationship-oriented, have strong communications skills and an ability to solve problems holistically.
Given our customers increasingly talk about the need for a CIO to have effective communications and business leadership capabilities; it makes sense to consider both genders (as well as other diversity factors including ethnicity, education and previous roles, etc.) instead of going for the established status quo.
What does your company do to close the gap?
Diversity is a big focus for our clients right now and we’re working closely with many of them to ensure their talent and candidate attraction campaigns target more diverse groups in the right way with the right message.
Addressing their employer brand is also vital – positioning the company and its culture, values, ethics and benefits in a way that will resonate with the intended audience and make them want to work there.
>See also: GIS: a move towards gender neutrality in IT
We also work with industry bodies such as techUK on relevant initiatives to encourage more women and younger people (not just girls) into being curious about and choosing STEM opportunities. In addition, we are exploring other opportunities with partners to help our candidates continue to upskill throughout their career.