With the growing number of women in the workplace, currently at 50%, UK businesses need to do more to encourage women into IT. The shortage of women in the IT workforce was highlighted by Parity last year and yet there are still alarmingly few numbers coming through. “Not enough women are currently being attracted into a career in IT,” says Sarah Cooke, Head of HR at Parity.
The continued downward spiral in numbers of women engaged in IT positions has also raised alarm warnings at the EC, where the call has gone out for companies to find ways to attract more females to the sector. It said only 22 percent of 2006 European IT graduates were female, a three percent drop since 1998 and a stark comparison to the 38 percent of female IT graduates in South Korea.
Within the UK workforce, women fill only 15 percent of IT jobs, according to recent statistics. And while one recent study indicated an increase in the number of women enrolling for IT courses, they chiefly aim for management related courses rather than the technical areas dominated by males. So, what can companies do to encourage the recruitment of women into the IT workforce?
Many IT companies, such as Parity, have urged companies to be more flexible in their working practices to attract more women to IT careers. They claim that when companies recruit for specific job openings, they often miss out on talented and aspiring individuals who could fulfill the role requirements and be attracted into IT positions if more flexible working practices were provided.
Sarah Cooke, of Parity continues, “Companies need to do more to attract, recruit and retain staff, particularly women in IT. I see the problem as being two fold. 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.”
“Creating a culture within an organisation that encourages flexible working is crucial to attracting and retaining talent in the industry. My experience is that if the culture and internal relationships are right and employees are given clear accountabilities and standards of performance, offering flexible working can be a key element of the employee retention strategy. There are also quick wins for employers such as offering childcare vouchers to provide employees with tax relief on childcare.” Cooke concludes, “With the continuous evolution of technologies, it is also crucial that companies offer a structured Training programme for staff, this is a key factor to retaining employees in IT which can be extended to help reskill women coming back into the workplace after a career break,” concludes Cooke.
About Parity Group plc
Parity (parity.net) is a UK-based Business and IT Technology services organisation, delivering technical, resource and training solutions that contribute to the business transformation and economic performance of both private and public sector clients.
Parity’s expertise in Project and Programme Management minimises business risk associated with systems implementation, integration or business change for our clients. As agents of change, we provide the skills, competencies and concepts necessary to improve business performance for IT enabled projects, programmes and change initiatives.
Having been established for over thirty years, Parity has developed deep industry and expertise in Finance, Utilities, Telecoms and the Public Sector delivering, people, skills and concepts for IT enabled projects and programmes throughout the UK.