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Industry split over gender equality in IT

With the focus on gender equality for International Women's Day, the IT community is split on whether the profession remains a...

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With the focus on gender equality for International Women's Day, the IT community is split on whether the profession remains a male preserve.

Daniel Thomas

Just over half of IT managers responding to this week's Computer Weekly/ Harvey Nash Big Question poll believe that IT is no longer regarded as a man's job, although over four in 10 disagreed. The Big Question is a straw poll of about 100 IT professionals, but reflecting the industry means it is dominated by men.

Despite the skills shortage in the industry, the proportion of women entering IT is falling - now women account for 24% of the IT workforce compared to 29% in 1994. If the same number of women as men entered IT, it would greatly reduce the burden of the skills shortage on IT departments.

A female respondent with 23 years IT experience said, "I am the head of the systems department in my company and I am sorry to report that women make up only one third of the department. When we have a vacancy, there will only be one or two women applicants for every 20 men - so things seem to be getting worse."

One respondent said problems lay in the misconception that IT professionals were merely technologists. "I see the problem as IT being presented as technology toys for the boys. But increasingly we see that successful IT is about engaging all interested parties and brokering the relationships - qualities which women often demonstrate more than men."

This was first published in March 2001

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