Lack of flexibility puts women off IT careers

The failure of employers to let IT professionals work flexible hours may be contributing to the decline in the number of women...

The failure of employers to let IT professionals work flexible hours may be contributing to the decline in the number of women entering the profession, a senior government minister has claimed.

Computer Weekly revealed last month that the number of women in IT last year has fallen from 232,900 to 207,213 - a drop of 3% - despite an overall growth in the IT workforce.

Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt last week blamed employers for failing to offer women IT professionals the chance to work more flexibly to help balance work and family commitments.

"I strongly urge senior IT employers to give greater commitment to the work/life balance agenda, from the top down, to reverse the downward trend in women working in IT," she said.

Her comments followed a survey of 1,000 IT professionals by the Department of Trade & Industry which found that 50% felt they did not spend enough time with their families because of work commitments.

Despite their unhappiness with their long hours at work, 75% of IT professionals believe that moving to part-time or flexible working would harm their promotional prospects.

The survey revealed that 33% of IT workers do not believe their employers are committed to helping them achieve a reasonable work/life balance.

About 40% of male and 55% of female IT professionals said they missed out on time with their children because of work commitments, and 53% said they did not have time to get involved in school activities.

Although 39% of ITprofessionals questioned believe senior managers can work successfully on a part-time basis, more than 50% said their managers were not setting a good example on work/life balance.

The research revealed that 93% of women and 81% of men want more flexible working practices.

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