By Daniel Hunter
With politicians looking to improve the number of women in boardrooms, the number of women entering male dominated sectors such as IT is falling.
The gender gap in technology has been well documented, and as a result several initiatives and groups have been set up with the aim of improving the ratio of women to men in these stereotypically male careers. Despite these initiatives, the number of women entering the IT jobs market is not encouraging.
Technojobs has undertaken research with female graduates as to why they had not considered a Computer Science degree or IT in general as a career. This showed that the “geeky”, male perception of IT was the primary reason why they were put off becoming potential female entrants into the IT market.
Additionally, the lack of role models for women to encourage them to explore this career was cited as a key reason. A glance at those women running companies in the Fortune 500 reveals that only two of the seven women in CEO positions of technological companies have degrees based in IT and computer science. The rest have achieved their titles as “women in technology” by climbing the ladder based on business acumen in companies that provide IT or technological services.
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show a decline in the proportionate number of women applying to undergraduate Computer Science degrees. In 2004 women made up 19% of all UK students in IT and technology related degree subjects, but by 2009, the most recent year available, that figure had fallen to 16%.
“There has been a continued effort to create a balance between the genders in the boardrooms of the world’s largest companies; however, this seems to have overshadowed the importance of promoting the need for women to firstly tackle the male stereotypes that exist further down the ladder," Helen Bayram of Technojobs said.
“Although it is hugely positive for women to see the number of female CEOs increasing, it is vital for us as a country to be promoting IT & technical subjects to women to encourage them to get involved in the industry at the start of their careers. This starts in the education system. The way Computer Science and IT is taught and positioned in school and through school careers services is fundamental to inspire young intelligent female students.”
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