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“Why can’t women just leave tech alone”… NZ debate continues

19 Aug 14

Traditionally the technology industry was a male dominated field, but in today’s world coding, computer engineering and java jobs are not restricted access for females.

And as the technology sector continues it’s pace turning into the largest booming industry, you would think there would be an increasing amount of women entering the arena.

The demand for filling vacant IT jobs is high, however finding skilled people (male or female) to fill these IT jobs is not as easy a task as some would think.

The number of women studying and working in IT jobs is still relatively small – the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries is a worldwide trend.

IT lecturer Masha Mohaghegh thinks the reason behind this gender imbalance may differ from country to country, but believes “there is an overarching issue in the way computer science is perceived by young people, particularly girls.”

It can be seen as a field which has limited space for creativity or design, and instead is associated with endless lines of code.

Candace Kinser, CEO of NZTech believes that although the gender gap in the tech industry is apparent in its numbers, it is decidedly improving.

“Pitchbook reports that over the past few years the number of venture backed companies with at least one female founder has reached 13%, up from 6% in 2010,” Kinser adds.

“Software companies founded by women made up 10% of the funded deals in 2013. While these numbers are shockingly low, the good news is that they are on a rapid increase.”

Mohaghegh adds that there is “no denying” the benefits of having a mixed gender base in work environments and the tech sector is no different.

“Women bring a different perspective to men, and every industry, not just the tech sector would benefit from mixed gender staffing,” Mohaghegh adds.

“This is further proven with research conducted by Zenger & Folkman which points out that two traits where women outscored men to the highest degree are taking initiative and driving for results.

“It has also been shown that women led private technology companies are more capital efficient, achieving 35% higher returns on investment in research conducted by the Kauffman Foundation.”

Addressing occupational segregation…

Efforts worldwide continue to address the gender gap when it comes to IT jobs to break the cycle of occupational segregation with Google at the forefront of this initiative, as seen through their Women Techmakers campaign.

Last month alone the search giant invested nearly US$60 million to launch a new initiative Made with Code aimed at closing the gender gap in the tech industry and getting young women excited about learning code and looking at IT jobs seriously.

As a result, Made with Code inspires women to get involved in the industry, and illustrates how they can combine their interests outside of technology with it to produce amazing work.

Research…

Recent research from the USA shows that women now comprise over 30% of the undergraduate degrees for STEM studies and over 40% of PhD qualifications.

With these statistics, Kinser believes there will be an “increasing amount of women founded software companies.”

Harvard University has studied this trend to find out what is holding women back when it comes to considering and pursuing IT jobs, finding that even when women are motivated to climb ladders in these fields, current corporate environments prevent them from contributing their full potential at work.

“I cannot say that I have experienced a glass ceiling in my career, however I have had my share of sexist comments and come face to face with some shocking attitudes from men,” Kinser adds.

“When I was thinking of starting the Women’s Tech Exec Lunches, I remember having the conversation with a few male colleagues over drinks.

“One of them asked why can’t women just leave tech alone – we have already taken over law and medicine (and he referenced posters with women doctors in hospitals), so why not leave the tech and engineering to men.

“Of course I thought he was joking, but there was a edge of honest feelings in his comment.”

Find out on Thursday how efforts are being made in New Zealand to encourage and inspire women into considering pursuing an IT job.

For more information visit Absolute IT by clicking here

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