Salary Survey Extra: Bringing women into the IT workforce

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

The IT field needs female professionals. What will most help draw women to IT professions?Almost anywhere you turn in IT, the demand for skilled professionals is higher than the supply. There’s a steady drumbeat of concern about where more skilled IT workers can be found. At the same time, the current global IT workforce is overwhelmingly male. There’s an equally persistent drumbeat of concern about the need to make the IT realm more welcoming to and inclusive of women and girls.

So we have a problem in Column A, and a different problem in Column B. See where this is going? All we have to do is solve the problem in Column B, and we can solve the problem in Column A at the same time. Eureka! Let’s kill two birds with one stone. (Does anyone else ever wish that we had a less grisly aphorism for that?) Now the only question is how to solve the problem in Column B.

Numerous advocacy groups, boards, commissions, and so forth have been formed in recent years to promote the building up of a strong population of female IT professionals. Among numerous other issues, there are three problems perhaps most commonly seen as restricting the involvement of women in IT:

The salary gap: As in many other professions, women in IT often aren’t paid competitively with men.
The hostile work environment: As in many other professions, women in IT often aren’t treated with full respect and consideration.
The shallow talent pool: For a variety of reasons, young female learners don’t often pursue technology education.

Certified IT professionals, in addition to being smart people generally, have an up-close perspective on all three problems. So in our most recent Salary Survey we asked them which is the most important problem to address, in order to gradually increase recruitment of women and girls into the IT ranks.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Almost 9 out of every 10 individuals (87.7 percent) who responded to the question are men. So the consensus view is heavily aligned with the male view, as shown below:

Q: The most important thing we can do to recruit more female workers to IT professions is:

Survey Consensus
Encourage girls to study STEM disciplines. — 38.9 percent
Pay women the same salaries as men. — 34.2 percent
Focus on eliminating sexist workplace culture. — 25.9 percent

Men Only
Encourage girls to study STEM disciplines. — 40.6 percent
Pay women the same salaries as men. — 32.5 percent
Focus on eliminating sexist workplace culture. — 26.8 percent

There’s a clear majority view among men that, while all three solutions are important, focusing on the IT education pipeline would be the most effective means of confronting the problem. The situation will improve fastest if more girls take an active interest in studying technology.

When you isolate the 12.3 percent of respondents who are women, however, there’s a different foremost concern:

Women Only
Pay women the same salaries as men. — 46.3 percent
Encourage girls to study STEM disciplines. — 27.8 percent
Focus on eliminating sexist workplace culture. — 25.9 percent

There’s a notably stronger feeling among women — women who already work in IT, don’t forget — than among men about what the most effective approach would be. Clearly there’s at least a perception among women that IT employers don’t pay men and women equally. (They’re right, by the way. We have data about that.)

Progress in all three areas of concern would almost certainly help bring more women into the IT workforce. It would seem, however, that there’s a clear preference among women as to which problem needs to be hit hardest.

 

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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