Gender diversity and the small number of women within IT is a common agenda item for all Australian companies.
While the intention and drive is there, what has been lacking within these boardroom conversations is the solid and exact data of where skilled female technology workers currently work, how many are working within the field and what roles have the highest participation of female workers.
It’s vital information to assist organisations to make informed decisions when it comes to gender targets within the sectors and set industry best-practice targets.
While some organisations are aiming for 50 per cent female participation rate, others are more pragmatic, aiming for 70:30. But in the IT sector where it is well documented there is a dearth of females; how realistic are any of these targets?
To determine realistic and possible targets, businesses need to be informed.
Without the benefit of available information, leading technology recruitment company Davidson Technology worked with LinkedIn to determine the population of people in IT in Australia, their gender, geographic location and the roles they work in.
The Davidson Technology DiversIT Report, released this month, found that of the 435,000 IT professionals on LinkedIn in Australia, only 31 per cent are female.
In executive roles this number plummets to 14 per cent. As these results suggest, it quickly becomes clear that 50:50 gender targets aren’t realistic as simply, there’s just not enough females.
Tabcorp CIO, Kim Wenn has been working in the c-suite for 12 years and said the numbers were truly depressing.
“Hoping to achieve a gender balance where participation is so low will be an uphill battle for us all,” Wenn said.
“We are facing a crisis in human capital and skills in the technology industry and we won’t be able to meet the demand of skilled ICT workers, unless we increase female participation. We are significantly underutilising women in this critical profession.”
The number of women per IT role type is alarming. In the top 12 IT role types, the percentages of women range from 18 per cent for systems engineers, to 33 per cent for product managers and up to 54 per cent for program managers/ project directors.
However, there is a silver lining in the mid-tier level of organisations. Areas like project management have a solid population of female workers and what’s even more heartening is that many of these females are progressing through the ranks and into senior IT roles.
Females represent 28 per cent of all IT project managers and these numbers swell to 54 per cent in program manager/project director ranks.
As someone who specialises in recruiting executive roles in technology across Australia, the question we now need to ask as an industry is: what does a realistic gender target for IT workers look like?
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