Tech & Work

Tech workers back need for more women in IT but oppose quotas

UK IT workers argue the industry needs to address its gender imbalance but say positive discrimination is not the answer.

The majority of IT professionals in the UK believe there needs to be more women employed in the industry, but are against positive discrimination for female workers.

Nearly four fifths, 77 per cent, of 336 IT workers surveyed by CWJobs.co.uk believe there are too few women employed in the industry.

The bulk of respondents, 71 per cent, oppose introducing quotas for a minimum number of female employees inside IT shops. Their preferred option for inspiring more women to take up tech roles was to better promote women with successful IT careers.

Reasons for women not choosing a career in IT, in the opinion of those surveyed, include the perception that IT is a male-dominated job and its "geeky" image.

The IT fields where women are least represented are, respondents said, engineering and security.

The perceived lack of women in the sector has motivated a number of organisations, such as the BCSWomen group, to try to address the shortfall.

BCSWomen group founder Dr Sue Black said: "Showcasing female role models, both within organisations and in the public domain, helps to highlight the women currently working in computing.

"Also, initiatives that practically demonstrate how to use computing as a tool can empower women and help them to see the potential of computing in their area of interest.

"Talent spotting and mentoring within organisations can also work well to improve the numbers of women moving up into more senior and high profile positions."

In contrast to those surveyed she does support the introduction of a quota for female IT workers: "To make a difference quickly though, I would argue for a quota or for getting organisations to work together to leverage capability, reach and impact."

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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