Why the lack of women in IT is bad for tech, bad for the economy

By the end of 2016 fewer than 25 percent of IT jobs will be held by women - exactly the same proportion as in 2015.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

At the end of 2016 fewer than 25 percent of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women, roughly the same as last year and perhaps even down a bit.

This lack of gender diversity in IT is both a social issue and an economic one as well, warns new research by consultants Deloitte.

Given that the global cost of IT is in the tens of billions of dollars, "the gender gap in IT costs the UK alone about $4bn annually", according to the report."So with that cost, gender parity (roughly 50 percent women in IT jobs) seems a reasonable goal over the long term."


Regina Moran, Fujitsu UK: "Neglecting women in the workforce will be a costly mistake."

Photo: Fujitsu

This is a worldwide issue but the UK has as much difficulty as anywhere else.

In the eight years between 2005 and 2013 the percentage of women in IT jobs in Sweden fell from 23 percent to 22 percent (although the percentage of women in senior IT roles did rise from 16 to 21 percent), the report says.

In the US, which has five million IT jobs, the proportion of female IT workers also fell from 25 to 24 percent from 2010 to 2014, with the proportion of women in senior roles falling three percent in 2014.

In the UK, with 1.2 million IT posts, the percentage of women in IT jobs increased, if only by one percent from 17 percent to 18 percent from 2010 through 2015.

According to the report the problem starts at school. It points to a 2012 survey which found that only 17 percent of girls had been taught any computer coding in school, while almost twice as many boys had (33 percent).

"And some argue that girls are often steered away from science and math courses in primary school," the report says. "Other experts go earlier still, stressing the role parents need to take in encouraging girls younger than school age to be interested in science and technology."

According to Regina Moran, the CEO of Fujitsu UK & Ireland, the gender imbalance is bad news for the UK. "Women make up a large proportion of our customers both professionally and personally," she said. "Neglecting women in the workforce will be a costly mistake."

We must combat this, she said, and it "is the responsibility of all IT stakeholders, from government to small businesses, to take action now to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects by girls at school and university."

To encourage women, young and old, to consider IT she said it is important to remember that, "technology touches every aspect of human life, and for its future success we must ensure that both men and women are aware of the exciting and diverse career paths available."

The full survey, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2016 can be found here.

Further Reading:

Dreamforce 2015: Salesforce.com co-founders want more women execs in tech

Twitter shares 2016 diversity goals for hiring women, underrepresented minorities

Intel Capital launches new fund for startups run by women, minorities

Editorial standards