Powerful women in tech
Out of the top 25 spots on Forbes' magazine 100 most powerful women list, just five were held by women in technology-related firms and jobs, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and IBM’s Ginni Rometty.
Though it’s encouraging to see these women at the top of the IT industry, they are still a minority in the sector as a whole. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, women accounted for less than 20% of the country’s information and telecommunications technology (ICT) workforce in February 2012 - even though women make up approximately half of the population.
Girls at school need to choose the right subjects for tech
Given the reliance on technology of large parts of the economy, there is now increasing focus on encouraging young women and girls into tech careers. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency believes the IT industry needed to encourage girls’ interest in technology from the time they’re at school. They must also encourage girls to make the subject choices necessary to move into tech careers, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Women and girls in tech careers
There are numerous initiatives to encourage young women and girls into tech careers. The IT sector is already brimming with opportunities for women, not least because of the opportunities for alternative work arrangements it offers. In a recent survey of 7,000 professionals by work platform Elance, four-fifths of respondents said they’re optimistic about the future of women in high-tech jobs. The results suggest that, for some women, the potential for online work in the tech sector creates opportunities that are more accessible than those in traditional work setups.
Female IT professionals
Firms are seeking out female IT professionals for permanent and in-house jobs so as to redress the gender balance and take advantage of a vast and as yet underused pool of talent. Opportunities for women can be found in tech-focused enterprises such as Accenture. Non-tech firms - like public services and banks such as Citi - also need bright professionals in their IT departments. And many women are now moving off the beaten track and starting their own e-businesses.
Good candidates are in demand
It is important to encourage women’s interest and talent in technology from a young age, but it’s also clear that good candidates are currently in demand. In the words of Neelie Kroes - in ICT, “there are opportunities out there if you aren’t afraid to grab them”.
Author: Sandra Smiley