When it comes to the IT and tech industry, only 19 per cent of women working in the sector said they were inspired by a female role model to take up the profession, a new report revealed on Sunday, stressing that the lack of female representation is still a key barrier to achieving a diverse workforce.
Over a third (38 per cent) of women working in the IT and tech industry feel that the absence of females in their sector made them wary of entering the profession, according to global firm Kaspersky’s ‘Women in Tech’ report.
“The results demonstrate a significant issue, highlighting the force of the ‘snowball effect’ if it travels in the wrong direction. For the women surveyed that had to take a leap of faith into the sector when there are so few examples of females who have trailblazed before them, it would have been incredibly daunting,” lamented Evgeniya Naumova, Vice President of the Global Sales Network at Kaspersky.
The research also draws a line and highlights the possibilities if there is a more positive shift in the future.
“Having more females working within the industry could set an example and reassure others around certain fears associated with gender inequality. This could provide the catalyst that truly accelerates the change that is desperately needed,” Naumova said in a statement.
The research, involving 13,000 men and women working in IT, found that almost half of women (43 per cent) had to find their role through their own research.
A further third (33 per cent) women were encouraged into tech during their education thanks to their school, college or university.
Despite positive steps to reverse gender stereotypes within the industry, to shake-up organisational structures and to shift cultural attitudes, there is only so much change that can be affected without more female representation.
“If there aren’t examples to follow, there isn’t a clear path for young women to take them from education, through to the industry, and then into senior roles further along in their career,” the report noted.
Of those surveyed, 44 per cent earmarked problem-solving skills as a prime example, while 40 per cent simply allude to the positive salaries that can be achieved.
Unfortunately, said the report, these positives are not currently being filtered down to young women interested in technology as a career.
“If this picture is improved, however, more women will enter the industry and excel, thus becoming role models themselves – a positive snowball effect in motion,” the report added.
“There is a wealth of other opportunities such as product management, project management, UX design, support, and training. It’s also important to highlight the advantages of a career in tech,” said Patricia Gestoso, head of scientific customer support at BIOVIA, the ‘2020 Women in Software Changemakers’ winner.
While tech careers are usually marketed by hard skills exclusively such as Maths, computers and logic, “it’s important to highlight that skills such as collaboration, communication, and customer skills are key to a variety of tech roles”, she noted.