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Women & IT: Get with the Programme

Written by Kimberley Startup | April 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

Since 2001, the number of female IT graduates in the UK entering the field of technology has dropped by almost 50%, according to research by the Guardian. It would seem women have not been flocking to the profession of information technology. In fact, ‘Everywoman’, an online professional network for businesswomen, revealed in the UK, 1.2 million people make up the IT workforce, but only 23% are female.

What does this mean for the field of technology? Computeach suggests that the UK will struggle to ‘remain globally competitive’ and is likely to fall behind emerging economies if the gender balance in the IT industry does not shift. But what’s driving this decline? And how can we encourage more women to get into the field of technology?

webrecruit posed the question of females and IT to its online communities, asking what do you think needs to change for women to close the gap on the current male dominated IT sector?

Many people shared their thoughts and opinions; the general consensus being that the profession lends itself perfectly to attract more males. As such, 33% believe more incentives are needed to attract female recruits to the IT space.

Whether these incentives would increase the number of women in the IT profession is another question entirely – after all, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Whilst experts believe more must be done to make careers in IT more appealing to women, many women would not consider it due to an inaccurate perception that working with computers is dull.

14% of respondents suggested it’s the way computer science has been taught in schools and another 33% of believe the attitude towards IT careers needs to change. Society depicts the profession as ‘geeky’, but contrary to common perception, technology professional, Jane Tappuni  describes is as ‘a vibrant, innovative, creative sector that is booming, but sadly there is still a dearth of women attracted to it’.

Technology is all about diversity, and how diversity leads to a better product. As a female, it seems fair to say, men, largely don’t do a great job making the products easier to use, perhaps because they concentrate more on the ‘geek’ factor of technology. Women on the other hand, have more of an intuitive sense of designing interfaces.

Today, information technology leads the way in so many industries. It’s no longer about fixing computers; instead it requires a whole new level of creativity. Key qualities sought after in a good IT professional include idea generation, problem-solving, multitasking and an enthusiasm to learn and develop new ways of doing things. Wouldn’t you agree, these skills make women the ideal candidate?

For more information, check out this article from The IT Job Board: Lack of Women in IT .

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