Why does the IT sector not appeal to women in the same way that it does to men? Is it because, to put it really simply, a career in technology goes together with male traits such as building models, while women are drawn to careers where their social and team-working skills come into play?
Leading experts who are trying to encourage more women into the sector say that the IT industry has grown from what it once was. The parameters of the field have widened to include more social aspects and this means women's skills are in demand.
The experts are not afraid to presume that men and women have different skill sets. Even if this stance is not politically correct, ignoring male/female differences would only hinder the move of women into the industry. To stop the decline in the number of women entering the industry, it needs to start appealing to women from a young age, they argue.
According to a V3.co.uk poll, set up to mark International Women’s Day, women are disillusioned with the technology sector. Almost half of respondents said that men still outweigh women in the IT sector, while around a fifth said that women do not get the same pay and opportunities as men. Less than 20 per cent of readers said they believe women joining the IT profession have been given enough support to enter the field.
According to IDC research commissioned by the European Union, one in five European IT practitioners is a woman and this number is declining, yet in other sciences the number of women has been increasing.
Furthermore, a separate report from IDC revealed that the need for women to join IT is greater than ever before because in five years' time only 10 per cent of jobs in Europe will not require IT skills, which is likely to lead to a potential shortfall of more than 350,000 IT practitioners.
“My experience is that the IT sector has moved on significantly, and we are at the stage now where it is a far more appealing career route for women than it has ever been,” said Stephen Uden, Microsoft head of skills and economic affairs in the UK.
“While the reality has moved on, the sector needs to continue to help the popular image to catch up by taking every opportunity to showcase the environment and working practices in IT. Women often bring a different skill set to the business.”
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