The technology industry needs to promote itself as a diverse and creative workplace if it wants to attract more women to its ranks, according to speakers at the FITT (Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications) trends lunch in Sydney this week.
Keynote speaker Tracey Fellows, managing director at Microsoft Australia told ZDNet Australia that the main reason women are underrepresented in the technology industry is due to an "old and stagnant" perception of it being limited to code-cutters.
"While that's a really important part of our industry, I've never cut code in my life," she said.
"Young women see this industry as being very boring, potentially very nerdy, when it's actually not," agreed fellow presenter Merle Singer, Director, Culture and Reputation at Dimension Data. "It's innovative, it's creative. Perhaps we don't sell that as much."
Carolyn Shaw, chairwoman of the FITT steering committee told ZDNet Australia that the IT industry is "extremely diverse".
"For women today there are a lot of calls for skills in collaboration, teamwork, project management, the ability to multitask," she said. "Women tend to have very good skills in these areas."
One of a handful of men at the event, Dimension Data chief technology officer Gerard Florian, said that the industry needs to make people aware that "it's not all about bits and bytes and chips".
"IT is prevalent across everything we do now," agreed Fellows. "If you talk about people in advertising agencies, they are working with IT building Web sites all the time. Do they think of themselves in the IT industry? Probably not. They think of themselves as creatives."
"There are some things we should do that really changes how people think about our industry and that will do a lot to encourage younger people, be they male or female, into the industry."