But leading companies believe more has to be done throughout the IT chain to quicken progress further
It’s International Women’s Day tomorrow, a day when many call for true equality between the sexes. But when it comes to the IT industry, it seems many women aren’t doing too badly on pay and quick promotion.
IT has traditionally been viewed as a sector dominated by men. But apparently this is no longer the case in many areas as a result of ever-increasing demand for developers, CIO/CTOs and other technology-literate professionals. There is also the democratisation of studying IT through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
As a result, some women have carved-out a small but highly performing niche in the IT professional landscape, according to research by Emolument.com to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The pay research firm analysed data from 4,700 IT professionals working in the UK to find out if women are as successful as men with roles in IT careers, and which are the top paying jobs for women in the field.
In IT jobs female professionals are promoted earlier than men, reaching manager level a full three years faster than their male counterparts, and 2.5 years faster for CTO positions.
This trend however is dwarfed by the fact that there are very few female professionals who work in IT, with only 6 percent of women senior developers, for instance.
Emolument.com says the gender pay gap is being eradicated in IT by high demand, due to a dearth of IT and software development professionals. Female IT professionals can earn more than £80,000 per year after ten years in the job.
Predictably, financial services will pay women in IT more than other industries. This trend is expected to continue as financial institutions are investing in digitising their businesses to keep up with fintech companies’ new offerings and product developments.
Alice Leguay, COO at Emolument.com, said: “The ongoing need for competent and skilled IT professionals is proving to be a blessing for women. The demand is such that it is breaking down traditional professional barriers which have held women back from being promoted in favour of their male counterparts.
“The missing piece to this pleasing picture is a growth in absolute numbers of female IT professionals, but which we are likely to witness in the coming years as more and more female IT graduates come onto the job market.”
That said though, Hitachi Data Systems says more must be done by the industry to support greater progress. It says: “It’s important for us not to forget that women still only make up 14.4 percent of all people working in STEM occupations.”
Lynn Collier, chief operating officer, UK & Ireland, Hitachi Data Systems, firmly believes that businesses must take the lead when it comes to fixing this issue and encouraging women into technology.
She believes that it’s important for businesses to think beyond mandatory quotas, which she says “only pose a risk to businesses”, and instead think creatively about how to showcase the range of opportunities available to women within the technology sector.
Within her role at HDS, Collier has co-founded the Hitachi Women’s Interactive Network (WIN), which provides women with development opportunities, and which has also teamed up with Beaconsfield High School in a drive to promote STEM subjects and the careers available to girls.
Collier said: “We can’t just leave it to the government and education system to stand up for women in technology. Businesses also need to ensure that they’re holding their hands up and taking responsibility – especially if they want to enjoy the business benefits that accompany gender diversity.”
She said: “Mandatory quotas are often cited as a solution, but I firmly believe that this quick-fix should be avoided. If you start enforcing mandatory quotas, you undermine the very fabric of what we’re trying to achieve: the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs – whom can go onto develop their careers in exactly the way they want to.”
Collier said that it’s not just about broadcasting the views of women at the top of the industry, as these roles may not appeal or be realistic to every potential applicant. Industry needs to start looking at how to showcase female spokespeople from every level in business, to truly demonstrate the variety of opportunities available in the industry for women to challenge themselves in different ways, she said.