Women don’t realise just how good they are, survey reveals

Survey reveals both men and women happy with careers in technology, but women lack self-belief compared to men

Both men and women agree to being happy with a career in technology and being offered equal opportunities, but women are lacking self-belief, according to a survey from Mortimer Spinks and Computer Weekly.

The survey revealed that men and women feel there no is longer is a major difference in career happiness and opportunities for promotion, regardless of maternity leave or career breaks.  95% of women said they are happy with their careers in technology, exactly the same number as men (see image 1).

Overall, both men and women feel they share the same skills to be in with an equal chance of moving up the career ladder. When comparing roles of seniority, both paint a similar picture with 25% of males and females as senior team members and 14% of both as mid-level team members (see image 2).

Asking the 1,318 respondents (45% women and 55% men) about the effects of sabbaticals or maternity leave, the survey found both genders firmly believed that taking a year off does not mean the employee will end up further down the career ladder compared with someone who did not.

However, despite these positive results there is still one major difference between men and women – self-belief.

Both men and women are in agreement about the factors needed to progress in a career. Both highlighted "being a good team player" and "fitting into the culture" as the most important social factors to a successful career. These were followed by factors more associated with the individual: "Being prepared to take risks"; "being ambitious"; and "being able to work extra hours/weekends" (see image 3).

Image 1

However, when asked how successful respondents were in achieving these career factors, on average men considered themselves 20% more successful at “being prepared to take risks” (21%), “being ambitious” (23%) and “being able to work extra hours/weekends” (15%) when compared to women respondents. Women chose not to tick the “very successful” box as often as their male counterparts (see image 4).

Image 2

Women did approximately rank themselves as equal to men in terms of "being a good team player" and "fitting into the culture".

Harry Gooding, head of client engagement at Mortimer Spinks, said: “When it comes to the self-belief question I don’t believe it to be a perceptible factor in day-to-day working life. It is more something that, over the course of a career, lots of seemingly small decisions/moments, adds up.

Image 3

“An example of this might be that men are more likely to talk over others than women and, over the course of a career, that means – rightly or wrongly – that they may be heard more often.”

According to Beth Nevins, interim management consultant at Mortimer Spinks, the lack of self-belief is two-fold: “Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of Decoded, has said that, when teaching women to code, they immediately feel they don’t have the ability to do it. This highlights there is an ‘image’ problem in the commercial and technology world around women in relation to technology.

Image 4  

“For women who are in technology I think there aren’t enough women who have senior positions in technology to act as role models/mentors to encourage more women to cross into technology or be more ambitious in the technology industry when they’re outnumbered by men.”

Technology remains less attractive to women

Despite the fact that men and women do appear to have equal opportunities in technology and most enjoy their careers, almost six in 10 (59%) of women still believe that starting a career in technology is less attractive to women then it is to men (see image 5).

Image 5


Women in Technology 2013

Furthermore, almost half (47 per cent) did not see the situation improving in the future. In 2012, the proportion of technology jobs taken up by women was 15.75%, which fell to 14.7% in 2013 (see image 6).

Nevins said: “I think the figures that show that most women in technology are happy in their careers should be used to encourage the benefits that a technology career can uniquely offer to women and in general.”

“It was really refreshing finding that the women who have made it into the industry are so happy and don’t feel there are major imbalances in their careers. However in some ways this makes it all the more frustrating there is such an imbalance,” Gooding added.

Image 6

The survey also revealed that 35% of people in the industry came from other areas of business (see image 7).

Image 7

In addition 61% of people in the industry see cross training from other disciplines as a possible way of addressing the skills shortage (see image 8).

Image 8

“There is a need now for those women that are in technology to take their status to act a role models, mentors and unofficial career advisors. I think the way job specifications and branding on technology websites about the ‘team’ should also be revisited and revamped to show other women how female technology employees are thriving in the technology industry,” Nevins added.

Gooding concluded: “What worries me is that, if anything, the problem seems to be getting worse year by year. One change I think we can all try is to change the conversation from ‘the lack of women in technology’ to ‘how amazing careers are for women in technology’.

Some myths and truths about women in IT

• Women are drawn to teams with more women in them;
• Women in technology are in more junior roles;
• Women do not fit into the culture;
• Women get into technology so they can do the creative roles;
• Women take career breaks more than men;
• Women have different skills to men;
• All women believe there should be more women in tech.

• Women are more successful at fitting into the culture of the team than men;
• Women make up 15% of the technology workforce;
• Women progress at the same speed as men;
• 64% of women have felt discriminated against in their job because of their gender;
• Women in technology are happy to be there;
• The number of women in technology is not increasing.

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