A crucial aspect to women continuing to work in ICT is having a manager sympathetic to their needs, according to a new global survey on women in technology. The respondents, including New Zealand ICT professionals, say even when an employer has the right policies, implementing them can be problematic. Says one respondent: “Flexible working and job share would help, but it’s up to the manager’s discretion after maternity and a lot of them say ‘No, you need to be here full-time and work extra hours’.”
Eileen Brown, manager, IT Professional Evangelist Team, Microsoft UK, points out nearly 39 per cent of respondents have had more than a decade of experience in ICT, yet only 16 per cent were in senior management roles.
The respondents raised the issue of the “culture of long hours” in the sector and the need for more support to those returning to the sector after maternity leave or other family duties.
The report quotes one respondent, “More should be done to keep women in managerial positions even part-time. A lot of women are offered a lesser position when returning from maternity leave. No wonder they quit!”
Brown expresses concern at the thinning “pipeline of women in IT” as women in their 40s are leaving the sector “in droves”. She says female professionals are important in building diverse teams. “The greatest teams are made up of the most diverse group of people,” she says. “Without the female aspect, you don’t get the best team.”
At the same time, Brown quips there could be advantages in being a woman in ICT. One respondent, for instance, says, “There are so few women in my industry that being female is quite a novelty and gets one remembered.”
As well, when attending huge industry events, “There are never any queues in the ladies’ toilet,” says Brown.