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Over a quarter of Middle East businesses have no women in their IT department

Businesses in the Middle East are failing to balance their IT workforces between men and women, and a quarter have no women in IT roles

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Middle East businesses are failing to recruit more women, despite an increasing need for IT skills in the region as the economy diversifies – and a high level of reticence on the subject among IT professionals in the region is not helping matters.

According to Computer Weekly’s annual Salary Survey for 2019 in the Middle East, of which 14% of respondents were women, 27% of businesses have no women in their IT departments. Furthermore, the survey revealed that only about 10% of IT departments in the Middle East region are made up of 40% or more women.

This shows a tiny improvement on the same survey for 2017, which revealed that just under 30% of respondents said there were no women in their IT department, and only 9% said more than 40% of their organisation’s IT staff were women.

Worryingly, the 2019 survey revealed that only about 30% of businesses have a plan in place to balance up the make-up of their IT team between men and women. Just more than 20% said they did not have such a plan in place, and about 48% were reticent.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in 2019, Yasmeen Al Sharaf, head of fintech and innovation at the Central Bank of Bahrain, said the problem goes beyond IT and that attitudes need to change if more women are to get into the industry.

“It is often mothers who, in order to combat the challenges of childcare, lose out on opportunities in the workplace, be that because of a decision to change to a role that offers increased flexibility, or even a decision to leave work altogether,” she said. “This is something that needs to be addressed.”

Computer Weekly’s Salary Survey for the Middle East in 2019 showed just more than 30% of respondents said recruiting more women in IT will help reduce the skills shortage – but 28% did not agree, and 40% had no opinion.

Read more about women in IT

  • The WISE campaign is calling on the STEM sector to increase the number of women in core roles to 30%, after finding the ratio of men to women in IT has been static for a decade.
  • The number of women taking IT contractor roles has increased by nearly a quarter in the past year.
  • Organisations in the Middle East face IT recruitment challenges unless they offer more training and employ more women.

Regarding driving change, about 40% of survey respondents agreed that men need to be more involved in integrating more women to the IT workforce. A total of 20% of respondents disagreed, and once again, nearly 40% said they have no opinion either way.

When it comes to pay rates, about 56% of respondents said men and women with similar qualifications receive the same level of pay, with 12% disagreeing and nearly 32% not giving an opinion.

Read more on Diversity in IT

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