Women represent less than a fifth of the IT workforce, earn significantly less than their male counterparts and shun senior positions due to lack of flexible working options, according to a survey.
The survey of almost 200 workers by IT services and staffing company Parity found that women make up 19 per cent of workers in the industry. More than six out of 10 of these work in project management, where their average hourly pay rate of £37.31 is only half that of male project managers.
Barbara Greenway, managing director of Parity's training division, said the discrepancy was down to the fact that the vast majority of management jobs were still occupied by men, with women far more likely to be in administrative and support roles.
"Many women are earning significantly less than men, but not for the same reasons as five or 10 years ago," said Greenway.
"It's not that women are being held back from these roles by the businesses employing them. The biggest problem is that they are opting to steer away from the top positions because these just don't fit into their lifestyle."
Parity believes organisations must motivate women to strive for a higher status in IT by offering flexible working options.
"Flexible working, regardless of gender, allows IT professionals to have their cake and eat it too. Women want to know they can bring up a family while pursuing a career, and if they can't it's the job that is now getting the axe," said Greenway.
"Flexible working is central to attracting and retaining good staff. Furthermore, it needs to be addressed at board level."
However, Greenway saw some cause for optimism in the survey results. "The good news is the results have shown that it is no longer a case of a difference in skills that is the cause of these discrepancies between men and women.
"It is a difference in what they consider are the most important factors in a job - and, on the whole, this is easier to address," she said.
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