Tech & Work

Women in the IT department: Why the shortage matters

More women in the tech team could help rebuild the relationship between business and IT.

Most CIOs want to hire more women for the IT department, but struggle to find qualified female applicants for the roles they need to fill.

Two out of three CIOs plan to recruit more women but eight out of 10 can't find the right candidates, according to a survey. Half of tech chiefs said more women in the IT department will improve the relationship with the rest of the business and enhance team cohesion and morale.

But as the IT department becomes less about building technology and more about providing services - thanks to trends such as cloud and BYOD - building better relationships with the rest of the business will become increasingly important. Indeed, it's the lack of these relationship-building skills that often make IT seem out of touch with the rest of the business.

However, the vast majority of CIOs  - 82 per cent - surveyed also said hiring more women would have no impact on strategy and 86 per cent thought it would have no effect on technical skills.

Women are and have been for many years significantly under-represented in IT and in particular in IT management. Only one in 10 CIOs is a woman.

One in three of the CIOs surveyed admitted there are no women in IT management roles in their organisation, while just under half said women accounted for less than a quarter of their IT managers, according to the CIO survey by recruitment firm Harvey Nash.

The survey found similar under-representation of women in tech roles. A quarter of CIOs admitted they have no women in their technical teams while half of CIOs said they only had one woman on the tech team.

The survey found more women in non-technical roles such as business analysis and training.

And it seems that old attitudes die hard. Big gaps remain between what female CIOs and male CIOs see as the benefits of women in the IT department. While 49 per cent of the female CIOs interviewed said women have a positive impact on efficient decision-making, only 18 per cent of male CIOs thought women contribute positively in this area.

And while only 24 per cent of female CIOs said increasing the proportion of women in the IT department will have a positive effect on technical skills, only nine per cent of men agreed.

Indeed, not all CIOs agree think the lack of women in the IT department is a problem. A quarter of 'dinosaur' respondents - those who have no women in IT management roles - believe women are fairly represented in their department.


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of

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