‘Second-Class Citizen’ Attitude towards Women Still Remains in IT Sector

More than half of women working in IT (56 per cent) believe that the industry has a career ‘glass ceiling’ according to new research from GCS IT Recruitment Specialists, sponsors of this year’s British Computing Society’s (BCS) Women in IT Award.

This finding is backed up by more than a third of respondents (35 per cent) who stated that there wasn’t a single woman in a senior position when asked about the top-five ranked members of staff within their IT organisation or department.

The results of the research also show that 83 per cent of the women surveyed have a male line manager, with 88 per cent working with colleagues of whom more than two-thirds are male. GCS believes this indicates that companies must take immediate action to turn this negative trend around and expand opportunities for the untapped resource of potential female IT recruits.

“The results of this research indicate that the IT industry is struggling to pull itself out of the vicious circle created by its male dominated heritage,” said Chris Bartlett, GCS’ managing director. “With demand for IT staff reaching unparalleled levels across Europe, it is essential that more women are encouraged to follow careers in IT, in order that the deficit is addressed. We believe that the promotion and encouragement of women in IT is good for the sector, as mixed gender workforces not only enable a greater natural balance, they also promote a better working life for staff. The industry needs to take significant and swift action to make the necessary changes to avoid a serious shortage of staff in the future.”

Neither do the prospects of those surveyed look bright, as 60 per cent believe that they will have to leave their current company to get promoted.

Perhaps more worryingly, 49 per cent believe that a male colleague with the same skill set has been promoted ahead of them during their career, and that their last pay rise was not equitable to their male colleagues (41 per cent).

One respondent commented: “I honestly believe that if I had been born male, that while my skill levels would be the same, my responsibilities would be far greater. Women may have to work harder than the men to achieve the same recognition.”

When asked what they believed puts women off having a career in IT the survey showed the following:

34 per cent said because it was ‘male dominated’

27 per cent because ‘IT is perceived as dull’

15 per cent because of IT’s ‘geeky reputation’.

Another respondent commentated: “Perhaps women don’t see themselves as good at technical tasks but what they don’t realise is that communication skills are as important as being technically proficient in this industry.”

GCS is sponsoring the BCS’ Women in IT Award for the second consecutive year. The winner will be a company that can demonstrate how it is encouraging women in the workplace through such initiatives as flexible working patterns, career development opportunities and support networks.

Winners of the award will be announced at a presentation ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, in December, forming the culmination of a year of celebration for the BCS’ 50th anniversary.

Wendy Hall, Chair of the BCS strategic panel of the Women’s Forum explains:
“All of us increasingly use IT in our daily lives but there are very few women involved in the design, development and management of IT systems.

This award is an important step towards encouraging employers to address the issue within their IT departments and to ensure they offer career opportunities which are open to and supportive of both sexes.”

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