Women will account for three quarters of IT testers by 2006 if they continue to enter the profession at their current rate, according to risk management and recruitment company Vizuri.
The proportion of female IT testers has grown from just five per cent in 1999 to over a third today. Overall, women currently represent just under a quarter of the IT workforce.
The sharp increase in the number of women in testing is more surprising given that this is one of the most technical areas of the IT profession, traditionally thought to be more attractive to men.
"The sector has long been dominated by males with pages of technical qualifications," said Paul Dixon, Vizuri's resourcing director.
But he added that many more women today have the necessary technical qualifications, and testing offers them interesting career challenges as well as a good salary and benefits.
Female testers on Vizuri's books also say they were attracted to testing because of the opportunity to rise quickly up the IT career ladder.
Dixon said: "Testers love a challenge, so the incentive of breaking the IT industry's glass ceiling is a compelling one. This surge is merely the start of women's increasing role in this sector - we're sure there'll be plenty more to come."
Testing may offer women greater opportunities than other areas of the IT profession because they have the softer skills that male testers may lack.
"The ability to interact with clients and customers is a crucial skill and we find women are extremely successful in these areas," said Dixon.
Vizuri's findings will no doubt be welcomed by the government, which last month launched the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. The Bradford-based initiative has been set up to encourage more women into technical professions.
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