The two biggest barriers faced by women working in IT are demonstrating their competence and challenging pre-existing stereotypes.
In a survey of UK IT directors carried by Robert Half, 57% of respondents felt that women have to go further to demonstrate their competence. 54% felt that lingering biases were an obstacle to their progression in the field.
Other challenges faced included earning respect (30%) and working in a male-dominated environment (28%).
Sara Newman, operations director at technical consultancy Amido said: “The shortage of women in IT is alarming. That’s not to say there isn’t a challenge for skilled IT professionals overall, but the number of women is far lower than it should be.
“Challenging the perception of the IT industry earlier on will mean that as girls grow up, they will be more receptive to a continuing their education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).”
Recently, there has been a call for women to continue with STEM subjects, both to close the gender pay gap and create more diversity in the industry. Robert Half’s research suggests that despite the worrying figures of the barriers women face, there will be parity in the future.
While a fifth of IT directors say that men will continue to hold the majority of positions in IT, almost half (47%) see a future where women will reach parity. 26% of respondents said they believe women will match or exceed the number of men in staffing and leadership roles.
Better understanding of the diversity of roles within IT should lead to a greater number of women entering the field.
Newman added: “The IT industry has developed a reputation where many think it’s all about squirrelling away in the dark writing code. While this is still a viable career path for some, it isn’t the only option.
“There are a number of roles that require project management or business analysis, or are purely management positions where you don’t have to be a purely ‘techy’ person. In some cases it can even be a benefit to the position for you not to be highly technical so you can bring the right perspective to a business objective or challenge.”