International Women’s Day: Could driving more women into the IT workforce provide a solution for the widening skills gap?

On the 8th March, International Women’s Day celebrated the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Even though only 30% of women make up the IT workforce (as highlighted in a recent report from the House of Lords), there are many achievements that women are making within the industry. International Women’s Day gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on some of the successes that women have made within the industry - a testament to the progress being made right now. 

Linda Liukas is a prime example of how, contrary to the statistics, women are active in the IT industry. She pursued her love for coding at 13 years old, using it as a creative outlet. Teaching herself HTML and CSS, she made her passion a career, landing programmer positions at Edutech and Codeacademy. This enthusiasm grew into the launch of her children’s book ‘Hello Ruby’. The book claims to be the ‘most whimsical way to learn about computers, technology and programming’ and is targeted at 4-7 year olds. This book became the most funded on Kickstarter with the author receiving $380,000 funding from supporters across the globe.

Due to the fast paced growth of the IT sector, most businesses are going through some kind of digital transformation. This digital shift has paved the way for opportunities in cyber security, data analysis, technology refresh, network and server management and web design to name just a few. With more job opportunities available and a larger number of women joining the talent-filled IT workforce, the possibilities for the sector are endless.

Creating a diverse team shouldn’t mean positive discrimination. The right candidate for the role should always get the job based on their skills, ability, knowledge and team fit. Creating an agile, multi-faceted team however should draw upon a range of perspectives and insights.

Pamela Maynard, president of IT consultancy Avanade, mentioned in an interview with online magazine Forbes that, “The teams with the best results are those comprising professionals with different attitudes, methods and backgrounds; those who draw multiple approaches into one unified solution.” 

The increase of women in the IT workforce is on the rise in our own work placements. Between 2013 and 2014, successful female candidates grew from 7.3% to 8.2%. With our figures to date, we are expecting this to rise again for 2015. 

We’ve all heard about the widening skills gap. Driving women into the industry shouldn’t be at the expense of the men already in or intending to get into IT, but instead to assist in fuelling our rapid growth within the sector. We need a larger pool of talent and without taking action to drive prospective workers into the sector, our growth will inevitably be stifled and the industry will suffer.

Austin Fraser is an award winning, specialist IT and Engineering recruiter who specialise in sourcing specialists. It's our mission to break the perception of 'stereotypical recruiters' and demonstrate that recruitment, when done well, is an excellent and consultative process. 

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