Women – and as many as 38% are working in the IT and tech industries claim that a lack of females in the sector made them initially wary of entering the profession.
However, Kaspersky’s new Women in Tech report has now revealed some key reasons why women remain wary to enter the fields of IT and related tech.
Primarily Kaspersky’s report highlights the significance of role models and the quest for gender diversity in the IT and tech industry.
Only 19% of women currently working in the sector were encouraged to take up key IT or technology roles.
The research surveyed 13,000 men and women working in IT. It found that almost half of women (43%) had to find their own role through their own research while a further third (33%) said that they were encouraged to go into tech during their education in school, college or university.
These numbers may sound encouraging and positive to indicate change at the grassroots level, but the fact still remains there’s a lack of female representation.
As such, beyond changes at the ground floor level, organisations in the sector will have to shake-up their internal structures to bring about a shift in mindset and cultural attitudes.
And, since there is a lack of female representation, the onus is on the industry to give senior IT or tech roles to women so they can become role models for other women down the road.
If there aren’t examples to follow, there isn’t a clear path for young women to take – from education, through to the industry, and then into senior roles further on in their career.
The results show a significant issue, highlighting the force of the ‘snowball effect’ – if it travels in the wrong direction, according to Evgeniya Naumova, Kaspersky’s VP of Global Sales Network.
“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. But the research also draws a line and highlights the possibilities if there is a more positive shift in the future,” said Naumova.
“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,” she added.
The study also supported the view that females can lead the way for other females – increasing the number of role models in IT will demonstrate to future entrants the skills and benefits that can be obtained from a career in the sector.
Among those surveyed, 44% of women earmarked problem-solving skills as a prime example, while 40% simply alluded to the positive salaries.
These positives are not currently being filtered down to young women interested in tech as a career.
This means quite clearly that the IT and tech fields will have to encourage more women to enter the field in order to change the current scenario.
And this, in turn, will help to have more female role models and hence will lead to a positive snowball effect in motion.
Dr. Patricia Gestoso, Head of Scientific Customer Support at BIOVIA, 2020 Women in Software Changemakers winner, and Ada’s List member believes there are many ways to change the narrative for women, beginning with “demystifying the belief that all IT jobs are about coding.”
“There are 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 Gestoso.
“Whilst 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 added.
By taking steps now to ensure that more women not only enter the field but excel in it, these industries will help to encourage more women to take up IT and tech as a profession in future.
This will also help in bringing about improved gender equality and diversity as well.
The organisations in the IT and technology sector, as well as other sectors, need to take concrete steps every year that will actually make celebrations surrounding International Women’s Day more meaningful and real.
By Pankaj Maru – India
(Image source – Kaspersky)