Diversity

Why is IT still struggling with gender diversity?

Could Disruption be the long awaited catalyst for Diversity? (F)
Diversity - Via Shutterstock

Encouraging women to pursue careers in the traditionally male-dominated technology industry isn’t just about creating more job opportunities for women; gender diversity in the workplace can also boost a company’s success.

According to a report by Catalyst, businesses with the most females had, on average, 42 per cent greater return on sales, 53 per cent better return on equity and 66 per cent greater return on invested capital. Workforce diversity also leads to teams that are more creative, innovative and capable of responding to changing market needs.

However, despite women’s influence in the sector, gender diversity is a persistent issue within the technology industry. In such a vast and growing area, women still take up a very limited amount of IT positions. Research by PwC found that only 15 per cent of people working in STEM roles in the UK are women - this is a miniscule figure and does not reflect well on the industry as a whole.

In order to ensure women are encouraged to pursue careers in IT, there are a number of things that the industry should be doing, starting at education and reflected at a corporate level.

It Starts at School

PwC revealed that just 16 per cent of girls have had a career in IT actually suggested to them and so only 64 per cent actually study a STEM subject at school. These results highlight that right from the beginning, young girls are being pigeonholed and not given the access to experience technology like their male counterparts. This means young women rarely see the great opportunities that are in the industry for them. Education institutions and industry need to work together to ensure the opportunities within IT are communicated to both boys and girls and the right information about how to pursue a career – and the different ways of getting there – is circulated.

A Room of Their Own 

Being inspired to pursue a career can be as simple as seeing someone who looks like you succeeding professionally, but many women do not feel there is this opportunity for role models within the IT industry. Cristina Greysman, Chair of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology (AWIT) Community, knows what it feels like to navigate industries where she is the woman, she comments: “I have been in the tech industry for over 15 years and most often was the only woman in the room. I felt like I’d been representing my gender my entire career.”

It’s important to understand that ultimately, the goal should be to make the industry more inclusive to all people, to ensure that both women and men have the chance to succeed and have people above them to be inspired by.

The Next Step in Education

In recent years, organisations and Government have dedicated resources and funding to non-university education programmes that introduce women to STEM fields and helping professional women navigate careers in the tech industry. The latest of which is CompTIA’s six-month re-training programme, Cyber Ready. The programme has been created to provide an alternative way for women to get into the cyber security profession and the flipped-classroom approach combines classroom and online teaching methods to help candidates, such as new mother, who may have other commitment and time limitations.

Expansion of the technological developments across all sectors means there are potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs to be filled in the next few years and the industry desperately need girls and women to be inspired and take some of these roles.

Zeshan SattarAbout the author

Zeshan Sattar is CompTIA's Certification Evangelist. He is a fanatical learner with a passion for ensuring IT Certifications are the cornerstone of all learning and development programmes. With a background in Digital and IT Apprenticeship programmes, Zeshan has worked at the forefront of programme design, curriculum development and technical training.