Gender imbalance in IT sector growing

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The gender imbalance in information technology is gathering pace, with 37% of women working in the sector saying they have been passed over for promotion due to their gender.

While more than half of men (53%) working in the sector believe both genders have equal opportunities, three-quarters of women think men are offered more opportunities than women, according to research conducted by global IT recruiter Spring Technology, the UK's largest technology staffing provider.

Psychometric testing company Thomas International conducted analysis for Spring Technology, looking at the differing behavioural characteristics of men and women in the sector. Many men working in the industry displayed higher levels of dominance-associated characteristics (being assertive, inquisitive, self-starting, direct, results-driven).

However, women working in technology demonstrated a higher frequency of influence-associated characteristics (being persuasive, talkative, demonstrative, optimistic). Spring Technology concludes these latter skills may not be valued as highly by employers looking for future leaders.

Only 3.6% of IT & telecoms directors are female, according to the ONS Labour Force Survey, while just 16% of professionals in the IT and telecoms profession are female. However, three in 10 (30.6%) web design and development professionals are women, proving that in some IT roles women are better represented.

“These findings demonstrate both the significant gender imbalance that exists in the IT sector and the scale of the challenge for employers seeking to address it,” said Richard Protherough, managing director of Spring Technology.

“Employers are missing out on a huge pool of potential talent and women are missing out on highly rewarding careers in technology. Employers need to recognise they are at risk of recruiting to type and be vigilant against it in order to encourage more women into the sector.

"IT functions need to ‘normalise’ women at the top by promoting a culture that advocates and supports the development and progression of women who are working in the sector,” said Protherough.

Belinda Parmar, CEO of Lady Geek, added: “This report shows that being proactive in encouraging young women into IT & telecoms occupations is more crucial than ever. We can’t be complacent; we need to show girls that technology is the most creative career you can have.

“We need to tell our girls that if they want to change the world, technology is the best way to do it.”

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