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CompTIA continues quest to address UK IT’s gender imbalance

CompTIA is taking big steps not only towards increasing gender diversity in the UK IT sector, but to closing the ever-widening skills gap affecting so many businesses

Industry group CompTIA has today launched its Dream IT initiative in the UK, as it looks to fix a startling gender imbalance in the country’s IT sector.

Figures show that women currently account for less than one fifth of the UK’s IT workforce, and only one in ten (nine per cent) young girls say they would consider starting a career in the industry. This is despite the fact that nine out of ten companies say they’re struggling to fill tech roles at present.

Dream IT, however, aims to make it easier and more appealing for women to learn about and start working in IT. It’s a goal that CompTIA hopes to achieve in two ways.

On one hand, it will provide free access to a collection of educational and informational resources for young girls who are currently in education and considering their options, as well as women who might be looking for a change of career. The group will also target those who have worked in IT in the past and could consider a return.

On top of this, it will offer ready-made toolkits designed to help women already working in computing to publicise the benefits of forging a career in the industry. These ‘role model’ kits include videos and presentation templates, making it easy for female IT specialists to set up talks on the subject, and hopefully inspire the next generation.

The big launch comes after the programme enjoyed a hugely successful start in the US, where it has reached 1,000s of young women in the past year. CompTIA is expecting to see similar results here. It also says the scheme as a whole will reach 10,000 women and girls over the next 12 months.

The organisation’s Director of Member Communities in the US, Cathy Alper, thinks the move will be massively beneficial for the sector on this side of the Atlantic. She said: “Women bring leadership and interpersonal skills, which are a benefit to the IT workplace. In fact, last year, we found that 73% of female IT professionals believe that their jobs make good use of their skills.”

“We’ve been working closely with our UK member community over the past year to develop these new materials that will help ensure that women and girls hear about the opportunities and benefits of a career in IT,” she continued.

Adding to this, Alper’s equivalent in the UK, Estelle Johannes, talked up the importance of having strong female role models in the sector, saying the Dream IT initiative would give influential figures “the tools to start changing perceptions.”  

While there is still plenty of progress to be made in the IT sector, the number of FTSE 100 board positions occupied by women is now at an all-time high, and CompTIA believes the best way to build on this is to influence young girls’ career choices early on. Only time will tell if Dream IT can play an important part in that journey.

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This is certainly a step in the right direction for many reasons. Alper raises a good point when she talks about women bringing interpersonal skills to the team. If you take a step back, and watch different teams, you’ll see the ones that truly excel typically have more social or interpersonal interactions than those that don’t (Margaret Heffernan gives an excellent TED Talk on how the social interactions of a team contribute to success more than having superstars on the team).
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