Women reject careers in IT

Sep 16 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Women are quitting the IT industry or not considering it at all because of its long hours culture, rigid working patterns and the male-dominated nature of the sector.

Research by Intellect, the trade association for the UK hi-tech industry, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) found that poor work-life balance, the male-dominated environment that prevails in the sector, the industry culture and company values and practices are the core reasons why the sector is unattractive to women.

Exacerbating these problems, the research also found that there are very few opportunities for part-time work in the IT industry, especially at a senior level. In addition there is a perception that those that do work part-time are not undertaking the same calibre of work as full-time staff.

Many of the women surveyed said they would also be more inclined to stay if there was less pressure to work long hours in a full-time role.

'"The UK IT industry is world leading, but it won't stay that way for long if we continue to haemorrhage valuable skilled women professionals from the sector," said John Higgins, Intellect Director General.

The fact that the IT industry is male-dominated made many women feel that there was a glass ceiling, while many also said that that they had to work harder than male colleagues to achieve success.

Women also pointed to an 'old boys club' approach in some parts of the industry, with informal male networking contributing to the perceived or real exclusion of women from many job opportunities in IT.

The culture within IT companies often resulted in women feeling undervalued because some of the 'softer' management skills went unrecognised. Some respondents said that companies were driven primarily by short-term profit, resulting in poor customer care and exploitation of staff.

Overall the report found that in order to attract more women into the industry in the future, companies first need to retain women now, as it is these women who will act as role models and mentors.

The report says that to retain women the IT sector should consider diversity training for those in the industry who are ensure of equality in the workplace, business mentoring, and creating networking opportunities for women.

"If we want our organisations to grow then we must open our ears to the reports findings and recommendations. We must take action to ensure that we are doing all that we can to recruit, motivate and retain women within our industry," John Higgins added.