Channel firms have been urged to attract more women into the IT and telecoms industry to help plug the skills gap.
The British Computer Society recently threw its weight behind the Global Women in Technology Role Models initiative, which aimed to spark young women’s interest in IT by showcasing the careers of successful female IT professionals.
Beti Williams, director of ITWales, an organisation that forges links between businesses and computing students, took part in the initiative. “There are so very few women deciding on careers in IT,” she said. “This will highlight, especially to young women, successful women who have careers in IT.”
The IT and Telecoms Insights report published earlier this year by e-Skills UK revealed women make up just 18 per cent of the IT and telecoms workforce. The report claimed redressing the gender imbalance could help plug the skills shortage, a view echoed by Williams.
“Children are technology savvy and think they are IT literate, but there is a difference between IT and computer science,” she said. “Education authorities need to understand they are two separate subjects.”
Williams indicated IT was unfairly overlooked as an industry well suited to working mothers. She said: “Teaching has been seen to be the ideal career for work-life balance. But IT is just as good because you can work from home.”
Maggie Berry, director of job board and networking group womenintechnology.co.uk, said: “It is difficult for women who take a career break because the industry and the technology moves so quickly, whereas you can go back to being a teacher or a lawyer relatively easily.”
Berry claimed the female percentage of the IT workforce had remained static for many years. “Women are missing out,” she said. “The IT industry has a fantastic range of jobs for women. But one of the key things is that the average person does not have a concept of what the average IT role is.”
Léo Apotheker, co-chief executive of software titan SAP, told The Jewish Chronicle: “The number of women going computer sciences is small. We need a better balanced workforce.”
But Paula Gillings, managing director of telecoms distributor Nimans, claimed the calibre of new recruits was paramount. “We employ many women,” she said. “We recruit and reward staff based on their abilities rather than their gender.”
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