This week I read the blog article “Why the Gender Gap Matters” by the Institute of IT Professionals TechBlog editor, Simon Eskow. The article shows that the gender gap in sciences and IT is not closing, and if anything may be widening. Internationally recognised companies like Twitter and Pinterest had female workforce membership of 10% and 20% respectively.
A NZ Herald article from 2014 looked at the gap in graduates coming from New Zealand universities with one in five currently studying IT being a woman. Some of this is a perception problem, with people who don’t know the industry using words like “boring”, “difficult”, and “nerd” to describe it, and missing the fun, creative, flexible, and well-paying aspects.
This was brought home to me recently when my daughter dropped Digital Technology Science as she entered year 12. In year 10 and at the start of year 11, her teacher had clearly inspired the class with many girls taking robotics and some even taking part in Code Camp. Unfortunately with a change in teachers the old perceptions returned and the inspiration has been lost.
At Rezare Systems, we’ve been fortunate to recruit a good number of very smart, capable women as analysts and developers (as well as smart, capable men). This has been particularly important as we started the business with a group of five technically-focused men. We’re currently sitting at 43% female employees, but the battle is not won: if I limit the statistics to full-time technical roles we are at 38%. Further room to improve.
At Rezare Systems we don’t think IT or science is boring or difficult: “challenging” perhaps, but so is anything of value. And we also value fun, teamwork, and flexibility in work-life balance. Of course, we’re always looking for the best candidate for each new role regardless – the challenge is to make sure that our own bias doesn’t lead us to miss that best candidate.