Tech & Work

Women in IT: Positive discrimination not the key, say CIOs

CIO Jury: Other ways needed to fix the balance

Despite only one in five tech workers being female, silicon.com's CIO Jury says that positive discrimination is not the right way to boost the number of women in the IT department.

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When asked if positive discrimination is needed to encourage more women into the industry, CIO Jury members voted against it by a factor of ten to two.

A significant number of IT heads in the poll reacted strongly to the suggestion that positive discrimination is good practice.

Ben Acheson, IT manager at PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery, added: "Discrimination in favour of women would not encourage more women into IT - rather it would see more qualified and experienced male staff brushed aside in favour of less able female candidates."

Despite the low proportion of women in IT overall, other respondents highlighted that their teams already have a healthy proportion of female staff without the influence of positive discrimination.

Peter Birley, director of IT at solicitors Browne Jacobson, said: "I personally don't agree with positive discrimination and people should be chosen on merit. In my team 55 per cent are women and 60 per cent of my managers are women and they are all there by ability."

Some respondents suggested employers look further than the immediately available labour pool to tackle the root of the problem.

Dr Ben Booth, global chief technology officer at Ipsos Mori, suggested the IT industry must address the reasons graduates in general aren't interested in IT.

"We need to make IT a more attractive career for all sexes - there are fewer graduates entering IT year-on-year, and we should address this urgently. We have the image of a 'nerdy' occupation, we need to communicate that IT is an exciting, vibrant destination, at the heart of modern business and public services," he said.

In today's CIO Jury were:

  • Ben Acheson, IT manager, PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery
  • Alistair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
  • Peter Birley, director of IT, Browne Jacobson
  • Dr Ben Booth, global chief technology officer, Ipsos Mori
  • Chris Broad, head of information systems and technology, UKAEA
  • Chris Ford, IT ddirector, Nottingham City Council
  • Steve Gediking, head of IT & facilities, Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Model Management
  • Neil Harvey, IT director, Sindlesham Court
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
  • Richard Storey, head of IT, Guys & St Thomas' Hospital
  • Pete Crowe, IT director, Fat Face

Want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of silicon.com's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at editorial@silicon.com

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