Women in IT: Welcome or not?

Posted on June 13th, 2007

Women are finding it more difficult to break into the IT profession than to progress up the career ladder once they have their foot in the door, research has found.

In a survey of 100 female IT professionals by IT training company The Training Camp, 67 per cent said it’s more difficult to even get into the industry as a woman than to gain subsequent promotions once they have secured a tech job.

Once they are gainfully employed in IT, 52 per cent of women felt they could move up the career ladder quickly compared to other industries.

Claire Taylor, a systems administrator at a software and services company, who has worked in the IT industry for seven years, said although she has found it relatively easy to progress in her IT career, when she started going for IT job interviews she came up against an attitude of companies being ‘less willing to employ women’.

Taylor said she felt she had to work to convince prospective employers she had the technical know-how to do the job because of her gender and the fact there were so few women in technical roles – although she conceded perceptions of women ‘have certainly got better’ in the time she’s been in IT.

Industry needs to recognise that women can do the job as well as men, she added.

However, Maggie Berry, UK communications director of online job-board womenintechnology.co.uk, disputes the notion that the IT industry is unwelcoming to women. Berry told silicon.com that, certainly at graduate level, the sector is ‘incredibly open’ to recruiting women.

She said: ‘Companies are crying out for women to join their IT departments and are keen to attract more women to join them.’

Berry said the lack of women is rather down to a perception problem – women not opting for a career in tech as they are unaware of how fulfilling it can be. She said: ‘It’s technology but that doesn’t mean it isn’t business-facing and business critical,’ adding that it’s important to get the message across to girls and young women that ‘a career in technology is not just about sitting in the corner coding’.

Research out earlier this year from industry trade group Intellect found few women are making it up the management ladder and of those who do, increasing numbers are abandoning the profession.

By Natasha Lomas (Silicon.com)