Women quitting IT over lack of employer flexibility

The British Computer Society says 37,000 women left the IT industry between 2001 and 2007, mainly due to employer inflexibility towards career breaks

Thousands of women are leaving the IT industry due to a lack of flexibility on the part of their employers, according to the British Computer Society.

Last week, the British Computer Society (BCS) revealed that around 37,000 female computing professionals left the IT industry between 2001 and 2007.

According to data from IT-sector skills council e-skills UK, there were 229,440 women working in IT — 33 percent of the UK's computing profession — in 2001. By 2007, that figure had fallen by six percent, to 192,580.

The fall came in spite of the number of UK technology professionals rising from 989,120 to more than one million over the same period.

Regaining the lost pool of female talent would go a long way to relieving the UK's IT-skills crisis, according to the BCS.

BCS Women's Forum manager Dr Jan Peters said the main reason for women leaving IT is a lack of flexibility on the part of employers regarding career breaks to have children, care for relatives or travel.

The BCS said technology workers who are able to plan for a career break are more likely to make a successful return to work rather than leave the profession altogether.

Having too few women in IT teams could affect the ability of companies to secure public-sector contracts due to strict requirements around gender balance.