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IT experiencing gender imbalance

Insight | IT | Gender imbalance | Problem

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Gender imbalance is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in workplaces up and down the UK and a new report has highlighted a problem within the IT sector.

The Women in IT Scorecard published by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, noted that there are too few women working within the industry. Girls accounted for just 6.5 per cent of pupils taking computing as an A-level despite consistently outperforming their male counterparts. This is leading to a shortage of women becoming IT professionals and for the sector to meet the growing demands this issue need to be redressed as soon as possible.

BSC's scorecard noted that as 2013 only 16 per cent of people working as IT specialists are women while the overall the IT sector saw just one in five being female. The research took into account participation rates and trend by gender from secondary education through to gaining full-time employment within the sector.

It compared the UK's performance against other countries as well as an evaluation across other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

While female staff numbers are much lower than men there was more positive news within the self-employed area. Over the past decade the amount women entering the IT sector as a self-employed specialist had doubled but this was the only bright spot in the report when it came women entering the sector.

Gillian Arnold, chair of BCSWomen says: “The continuing decline in women entering the IT profession is a real threat for the UK and an issue that clearly we need to address. This report helps to identify the areas where we need to focus our energy.

"While there are some good indications in the findings that suggest there is progress is some areas (for example - an increase in the number of women working in IT part-time), it’s still not enough."

It was not a case of staffing numbers that showed large discrepancies as female pay did not match their male counterparts. The report noted that the median gross weekly rate of pay for female IT specialists was £640, £120 (16 per cent) less than men in similar IT roles who were earning £760 a week.

Another sector that is feeling a gender imbalance is construction where yesterday (June 23rd) marked National Women in Engineering Day. Figures released by construction and engineering firm Bechtel highlight that just six per cent of the UK engineering workforce is female while other companies such as Aecom and WSP put this figure at seven per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively. Bechtel's own workforce in the UK is ahead of this curve at 14 per cent and wants engineering companies to work with schools to promote the benefits of the sector to girls and help increase the number of women engineers.

Peter Dawson, president of civil infrastructure at Bechtel, said in an open letter to mark National Women in Engineering Day: "Creating an inclusive environment in the workplace has shown us that diverse teams get better results and is good for business. For example, working with our colleagues at Crossrail, we have found that the more diverse the team, the better they perform."


Posted by Jon Aspinell on 25th June 2014

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