IT industry lags in recruiting women, says Scotland Women in Technology

The IT industry is lagging behind other sectors in attracting more women into the profession, according to the organisers of a group to encourage women into technology.

The IT industry is lagging behind other sectors in attracting more women into the profession, according to the organisers of a group to encourage women into technology.

Silka Patel, executive assistant at Cisco and founder of Scotland Women in Technology, said a lot of women are opting for careers in other industries, as they seem to have been more successful in attracting girls at a younger age.

"The perception is that you have to be a computer programming geek to enter IT, which isn't true at all. A lack of female role models could also be discouraging girls from IT," she added.

Polly Purvis, executive director at IT trade body ScotlandIS, agreed. Over the last 20 years women have lifted the glass ceiling in male-dominated industries such as accounting and law. But IT has been slow to make similar inroads, she said.

According to research last year from e-skills, women make up just 19% of the IT workforce in the UK. Despite the amount of IT workers doubling in the last two decades to 1.2 million, the representation of women has declined since the early 1990s, it found.

Polly Purvis said this could be due to uninspiring IT courses. "The curriculum needs to be updated. We need to get the message across about the opportunities that IT is a high-paid sector with lots of opportunities for flexible working.

"The sector is missing a huge trick. We know that women are just as capable as men. A reaction of a lot of women after entering the industry is often 'why didn't I do this sooner?'"

A report from the Chartered Institute of Management recently found that women working in IT were 63 years away from reaching gender pay parity and that the sector has one of the largest pay gaps.

Scotland Women in Technology aims to promote networking and mentoring opportunities among its members and reach out to schools and universities to influence young women to consider a career in IT.

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