IT is not about socks and sandals but more about handbags and glad rags….

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You will have to forgive the photo… and no, I am not making a sweeping statement that everyone in IT (at least not since the 90’s anyway) wears socks and sandals.

I was lucky enough to attend The Great Business Debate (TGBD) last month on International Women’s Day hosted by HP. It was all about how we get more women into IT and being an IT recruiter this is a hot topic for me at the moment and on a lot of my client’s radars. A lot of my clients are pushing to get more women into IT, however, there is a lack of women available in the marketplace. This is a big topic that comes up a lot in meetings and conferences, especially after last year’s #iLookLikeAnEngineer picture and Tim Hunts 'women are distracting and cry in labs' debacle. 

One of the quotes of TGBD was "more women are joining the field of IT but not at the rate we need, IT is not about socks and sandals anymore but handbags and glad rags".

As of today, across my 6 years in IT recruitment I have only placed 17 women into IT roles, not through choice or discrimination but due to the lack of female talent in IT.

Why is it that, while women make up approximately 49% of the UK labour force, they account for just 17% of IT and telecom professionals?  Also, it is reported that the number of women in the IT industry in the UK has been falling over the past 10 years. Why?

A gender equality report by Mervyn Davies will set a new target for FTSE 100 firms to achieve 33% female board members by 2020, which is really positive, but we need to get more women in at ground level or there will not be enough talent coming through to fill the shoes of their bosses in the future.

Many men are also getting strongly behind the change, both as executives and as fathers who want to encourage their daughters and partners to join the world of IT.

But the question is how we get more women into IT and how we can balance the ratio? This is something I would love to hear your thoughts on. How can we generate interest from young children to say "when I grow up I want to be a Software Developer” or “I want to be a Network Architect" rather than a Doctor, Actress or Lawyer?

After all it can only improve the quality of the industry! Computer code written by women has a higher approval rating than that written by men - but only if their gender is not identifiable, click here to read more.

What are your thoughts?