Microsoft's Debbie Walsh yesterday told a press briefing that the number of women going into IT was down from 30% in 1989, to around 15% today. Walsh was speaking at the launch of a research paper that Microsoft commissioned NOP to produce, to look into the seriousness of the skills gap in IT.
Walsh said "It is an image thing"... "compared to South East Asia where 55% to 60% of the IT workforce are women". The image problem was illustrated for Debbie Walsh when she was recently contacted by a couple of journalists working for the womens magazines Good Housekeeping and Family Circle. She tells how staggered they were to learn that the Microsoft workforce was split evenly between the sexes. "they are absolutely amazed at this because they have this impression that it is all men that are going in to the IT industry".
The NOP report highlights a particular problem for school's who are struggling to recruit and retain their IT coordinators, many of whom are being poached by industry. The report found that in excess of 20% of school IT coordinators are actively considering a move into industry or contracting, where the financial rewards can easily enable them to double or tripple their academic salaries. Microsoft's "IT Skills Study" will shortly be posted to the company's Web site.