Outlook grim for gender parity in technology

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Only 37 per cent of Australian CIOs believe that women will be on par with men in both staff and leadership roles in the future, ranking second behind France (50 per cent), but well ahead of Asia (24 per cent) and the UK (25 per cent), according to research by recruitment firm Robert Half.

Only 4 per cent of CIOs around the world, and 6 per cent of Australian CIOs see women holding the majority of both staff and leadership roles in the future.

Thirty-four per cent of Australian CIOs believe that, despite women reaching parity in staff level roles, men will continue to hold the majority of leadership roles, compared with an average of 46 per cent of CIOs across Brazil, France, Germany, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, who foresee male dominance continuing in the sector.

“The technology sector is experiencing exponential growth, particularly within the big data, cybersecurity and mobile spaces. And while gender imbalance within the sector has long been recognised as an ongoing issue, with 91 per cent of Australian CIOs saying they find it challenging to source skilled IT candidates, it is more important than ever for women to enter the IT sector and obtain positions across the chain of command,” said Nicole Gorton, director, Robert Half Australia.

When asked about the challenges the IT industry imposes on women working in the sector, 53 per cent of Australian CIOs say challenging existing stereotypes within the industry is the greatest barrier, followed by proving their competence (49 per cent). Other barriers include overcoming impersonal/cultural considerations (41 per cent), earning respect (31 per cent), and 24 per cent CIOs refer to overcoming a male-dominated workplace.

“Improving female representation within the technology workforce will not be without challenges and requires an encompassing approach, starting with positioning IT as an attractive career path for both men and women. Secondly, in order to challenge this traditionally male-dominated environment and channel more women into their technology teams, Australian companies need to further encourage workplace diversity and promote the added value of a balanced workforce to the wider business community,” said Gorton.

She also emphasised the importance of STEM knowledge and skills.

“With insufficient Australian talent in the pipeline, investing in education and encouraging women to stay engaged in STEM-lated education and careers is a vital step towards increasing and ensuring the full representation of female IT professionals and leaders,” said Gorton.

“With more opportunities in the IT sector, this presents a fantastic opportunity for women aspiring to work in IT as companies are looking for IT candidates with strong skill sets who can spread value across the board. Furthermore, ambitious women working in IT need to seize opportunities and position themselves for advancement and leadership roles.”

The views of 960 CIOs globally were canvassed for the research.

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