Have women rejected technology as a career choice and is it harming growth?

October 5, 2013

New research reveals significant gender imbalances in the technology sector and an acute skills shortage – reports Harvey Nash.

Seven out of ten technology leaders believe they are missing vital skills as a result of low representation of women in their teams. Of major concern is the lack of female leaders in technology to inspire the next generation of female graduates, with little sign of growth in numbers in the immediate future.
This is according to the latest Harvey Nash Technology CIO survey, presenting the views of 2,438 senior level Information Technology leaders from twenty countries.
Dr Jane Shaw, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Intel Corporation said: 
“Whilst many companies in the technology sector are beginning to understand that gender balance in the work force is a valuable corporate resource, clearly more needs to be done. This is the challenge for both technology companies and IT support functions around the world. Attracting, and most importantly retaining, women in the workplace must continue to be a priority.”
The survey reveals:
  • Untapped potential: Sixty eight per cent of respondents identified at least one major positive impact they are missing from not having enough female representation in their teams.  The skills / attributes most missed were: relationships with internal customers (51 per cent); team cohesion & morale (48 per cent); and creativity & innovation (46 per cent)
  • Gender imbalance at top table: The proportion of CIOs and technology leaders that are female has remained virtually unchanged for the last seven years at just seven per cent (in 2005 it was eight per cent) 
  • Lack of female role models in middle management: Over a third of those surveyed confirmed they have no female technology managers at all in their organisation, and 81 per cent have less than a quarter of management roles populated by women
  • echnology not seen as attractive to female graduates: Almost a quarter of CIOs (24 per cent) have no women at all in their technical and development teams, even in more junior roles. CIOs of both genders believe the main cause of gender imbalance is the supply of talent; 75 per cent of women CIOs believe there are a lack of qualified women candidates available for technology roles, 88 per cent of men share this view
Dr Jane Shaw, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Intel Corporation continues: 
“A strong emphasis is required on early education in the fields of engineering, maths and science, through to programmes to ensure that women have access to the executive ranks and the boardroom”.
Concluding on the results, Albert Ellis CEO of Harvey Nash Group plc said: 
“The technology sector is currently suffering from acute skills shortages across the world in many areas, most notably the fast growing digital and mobile segments. What this survey shows is that fifty per cent of the population is badly under represented which means their potential is largely untapped. This acts as a major drag on growth.
“The rejection of technology as a career choice for female students has certainly been a major factor, and the technology industry, including specialist recruitment organisations, must play their part in expanding the pool of available talent.”