Assessing the prospects for females in IT

As Australia gears up for an increase in demand for IT workers, what role do women have to play? Can the gender imbalance be reversed?femaleThe gender imbalance present in the IT sector has long been a discussion topic for industry professionals, with plenty being done to try and even the odds and have men and women working on equal terms.

The problem is not as simple as some sources may let on. While there is an overall gender imbalance in the industry, there are also sub-sectors within this that have their own employment trends further dragging the average down.

Women’s role in Australia’s growing IT industry was discussed in Deloitte’s Australia’s Digital Pulse Survey, which found there is further work to do to encourage equal opportunity for all IT staff.

How big is the imbalance?

Across all jobs in Australia, women represent 43 per cent of total employees. Women make up a much smaller proportion when IT jobs are measured, accounting for just 28 per cent of all currently occupied roles.

According to Deloitte, this imbalance is exacerbated by particular sections within the IT industry. For example, only 20 per cent of software programmers, IT managers and support staff are female.

However, the administration and logistics support sector is an outlier in the other direction. Just over 40 per cent of employees in this area of IT are female, making it the area with highest concentration of women in the industry.

Deloitte also believes it understands why the imbalance has been so difficult to address. According to the firm, the public image of these jobs is narrow and often stereotyped, preventing people from registering interest.

There is also a perceived lack of flexibility in these roles, a fact is disproved by Deloitte’s statistic that more than half (52 per cent) of the country’s IT workers are employed outside what would traditionally be classed as the IT industry. This includes financial service and public administration roles.