IT, You've Got a Chromosome Missing

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-04-10

While the overall U.K. work force is 50 percent women, in IT the percentage of female workers hovers at a low 15 percent, finds research released April 7 by Parity, a U.K.-based business and IT technology services organization. The report calls upon companies to do more to attract female employees to the sector.

"Not enough women are currently being attracted into a career in IT," says Sarah Cooke, head of HR at Parity. "Companies need to do more to attract, recruit and retain staff, particularly women in IT."

Only 22 percent of 2006 European IT graduates were female, a 3 percent drop from 1988, finds the report. In addition, the portion of women in the EC was in stark comparison to South Korea, where 38 percent of 2006 IT graduates were female.

An increase was found in earlier Parity research in women enrolling in IT courses. However, those courses were chiefly management-related rather than in the technical areas currently dominated by men.

The report encourages workplaces to become more hospitable to a talented female work force by making their workplaces more flexible as well as encouraging more women at the university level.

"I see the problem as being twofold. Firstly, the image of IT needs to change. IT companies could do more to market their brand and build relationships with schools, colleges and universities to get people on board in the early stage of their careers. Secondly, more family-friendly policies and working practices are needed to retain women in the IT sector," said Cooke.

In addition, workplaces were encouraged to offer both child care vouchers and structure training programs, ideal for women coming back into the workplace after a career pause.

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