The myths and reality of women in IT

The 2003 Skills Survey examines the role of women in the tech workplace and has some surprises

This year's Skills Survey has thrown up a number of surprising results, but one area where it was difficult to make predictions was with the role of women in the IT workplace.

In total, 13 percent of 3,830 respondents to this year's survey were women -- down on last year's figure of 15.3 percent. While some people still think of the female techie as a myth of Bigfoot proportions this result shows that women are established in the high-tech sector.

More specifically, of those female respondents 17.2 percent currently work as IT managers, 11.9 percent work as IT consultants and 4.5 percent hold the post of IT director or chief information officer -- showing that the once male-dominated world of high-tech may be starting to lose its single-sex status, even among some of the most senior roles.

While it is clearly true that fewer women are working in IT, for reasons outside the remit of this survey, those who are in the workforce appear to be enjoying near parity with their male colleagues in terms of percentage representation in certain sectors.

The demographics of the IT manager and vendor categories reveal the closest comparative figures. While 17.2 percent of the women surveyed work as IT managers, the figure for men is 20 percent. Of all our respondents, 3.3 percent of women work for a vendor, while the figure for men is 3.8 percent.

In fact one position where women appear to have the upper hand is that of e-commerce director/manager. With e-commerce still a relatively recent addition to many companies offerings it may be that such posts may be safeguarded from the cronyism and 'old boys' network that are inherent in appointing people to more traditional roles.

And indeed there is still some way to go before we talk about true equality across the board. Where the gulf starts to widen is with the more senior positions. While 4.5 percent of female respondents are currently in board director positions, the figure for male respondents is 8 percent.

However, the gulf between men and women is perhaps greatest in terms of salary. The majority of female respondents -- 68.5 percent -- are earning less than £40,000 per year, with almost a third -- 32.3 percent -- earning less than £25,000.

For men, the money is far better. While the majority still earn less than £40,000 per year the actual figure, 54.8 percent, is much lower and there are far fewer -- 20 percent -- earning less than £25,000 per year.

At the higher end of the pay scale this means 32.5 percent of women earn more than £40,000, compared to 45.2 percent of men. And in the very upper echelon, 2.7 percent of female respondents are earning more than £110,000 per year, compared to 3.5 percent of males.

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