Women in IT – The final frontier?

By Ed Jones
First published in Girly Geekdom

First and foremost I have to say I feel very privileged to be writing for Girly Geekdom, especially considering I’m a boy! Never one to shy away from controversy, I thought I’d jump right in and talk about an area I’m comfortable with, Women in IT.

Working within the marketing department for a global IT Training Company I’m surrounded by statistics on a daily basis. Part of my role is to identify trends, make inferences based on data and leverage opportunities to generate more business. So within my day to day job it’s hard not to notice one stark fact…..the lack of women participating in IT Training. And I say fact purely because I have the data to back it up.

My first insight came directly from our companies Facebook following, of the 899 followers, only 16.9% are Female. In isolation this figure; whilst concerning, is not an accurate reflection of the current trend of females participating in IT Training.

For the purpose of this article and with permission from my manager, I took the time to delve a little deeper into the data. I pulled all attendance records for participants trained by Firebrand in 2012, and much to my pleasure I discovered we don’t keep demographics based on gender. Cue two painstaking hours filtering through 3500+ records to uncover the following and somewhat concerning fact. In the UK last year, only 10.9% of attendees on our full range of IT Training courses were female.

Now I’m only speculating here, but if education is an accurate reflection of those working within the IT sector, then a huge percentage of the workforce is male dominated. This leads us to consider some big questions, why is this is happening, and how can we change this?

Why is this happening?

Here I have to say a big thanks to Christine Horton from Channel Pro who pointed me in the direction of her recent article (thus doing most of the work for me), ‘Is the IT Industry deterring women?’. The article brings to light some compelling findings from a recent survey conducted by CWJobs.co.uk.

According to the survey, more than 70 per cent of IT Professionals believe the perception that IT is a male dominated career is deterring women. 63 per cent also highlighted IT being considered a “geeky” career choice, further detracting from women entering the sector.

Personally, I don’t think there is nothing wrong with being a geek, no doubt amongst the readers of Girly Geekdom I’m not alone. So this leads us into phase to.

How can we change this?

Perception is a big challenge, and something that needs to be addressed at all levels.

The Little Miss Geek Campaign is a great grass roots initiative set up by Lady Geek Founder and CEO Belinda Parmar. The campaign aims to inspire the next generation of young girls become tech pioneers. They do this by planning ‘after-school coding clubs’ for young girls to educate and excite and inspire interest.

But we can’t just focus on grass roots, there’s a whole generation of female professionals of age eligible to join the industry now. The IT Industry as a whole must play its part. Richard Nott, CW Jobs Website Director argues, “The IT industry needs to work to change its image and encourage more women into the sector. IT is a multi-faceted industry, and it’s continual and extraordinary growth means opportunities are constantly arising for professionals of both genders.”

“We need to harness these opportunities, and encourage women to investigate these career choices further.” He’s not wrong.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope you play your part.

____________________

The GirlyGeekdom site was founded by Sarah Lamb (formerly Blow) initially as an online Magazine for Girl Geeks, filling the site with anything that she thought of as Girly and Geeky, i.e. a little world of GirlyGeekdom.  Since it’s creation the site has expanded and grown with a range of volunteer writers and contributers as well as a move from the Blogger platform to a self hosted site.  We have also brought together content from partner sites such as Girls n Gadgets and Computer Weekly’s WitSend blog to bring you content on Women & technology from a range or amazing and well known writers as well as bloggers!

2 comments

  1. We also need to communicate how creative an industry technology is to work within alongside the coding element. I was one of very few women on my computing degree course and when managing a technology division in the city of London. I have now co-founded a competitor saas monitoring tool, technology has kept my interest largely due to it being such a creative field to work in.

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