Women in IT - do we really need them? Put aside my glaringly obvious gender bias on this subject for a moment, because in reality there is no easy answer to this.
Ignoring over 40 per cent of the European workforce is never going to be the way to achieve growth or a balanced business in any sector. This is especially true when you consider that, in the UK at least, girls are outperforming boys at every academic level, not just at primary or GCSE.
In the A level results out only a few weeks ago girls again achieved more A grades than their male counterparts. Statistics also suggest that women are now doing better than men at degree level (and not just in home economics or needlework!).
But all of this over-achievement is not necessarily a reason to hire a person. And from an IT employer's point of view, it is pretty hard to hire women when they simply aren't applying for the roles.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) last week called for a new strategy to increase the proportion of women in IT. Only one in five IT workers is female, a figure that has fallen from 23 per cent a year ago. So the EOC will spend months devising a clever strategy, undoubtedly costing a huge amount of money, to drag more women into our sector. Fantastic.
Except the EOC forgot one very important point: did anyone think to ask women if they wanted to become IT managers or chief technology officers? Does anyone really believe that, in this day and age, if women genuinely wanted to infiltrate a profession they wouldn't be able to?
Women outnumber men hugely in the primary education arena, but there are no high-profile EOC campaigns to get more men into that sector. (Perhaps if they did, having more male role models from a young age would encourage boys to perform better academically.)
Although it's highly beneficial to have diversity of gender in any workplace, we live in an age where each person - that's person, not gender - has the right to choose their profession, not be coerced into a role which, for a plethora of reasons, may not be right.
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