Women playing catch-up in fast paced IT industry

Many women in IT still consider the industry to be a "boys club".

Being undervalued in the workplace is the biggest concern of Australian women in IT, according to the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) Women Members Survey.

Thirty percent of 628 respondents believed they did not receive equivalent pay to their male counterparts, while “many more” felt they did not get the same recognition or promotion opportunities as their male colleagues.

ACS CEO Kim Denham acknowledged that the rapid development of the IT industry has left many women playing catch-up.

“I have certainly encountered women throughout my career whom have had some serious issues. Although in the last 20 years we have moved forward, I believe we could do so much more,” she said.

Denham said maternity leave results in the longest break from a woman's career.

“One member in the survey said that after 15 years she is still trying to recover from her time off,” Denham said.

According to the ACS, "many" of the respondents expressed concern that IT has become a “boys club” where decisions are made over a beer and women aren't necessarily invited.

“It is particularly disappointing that women who are highly qualified, and have significant experience feel they are overlooked and undervalued compared to men,” said ACS Chairman, Kumar Parakala.

Despite the majority of women surveyed being highly qualified, they still feel that they must work harder and achieve better results in order to earn the same salary as their male counterparts.

“The result is very surprising because companies have done a significant amount of work on combating workplace inequality”, said Denham.

“ACS member companies see equality as absolutely critical for their workforce environment. Everyone is treating it very seriously and putting in diversity programs in their organisations.”

Other key issues concerning women in IT is unpaid overtime and a lack of flexibility in hours and positions, affecting the ability to achieve a healthy work/life balance.

“Affordable access to training, networking focusing on women and mentoring have certainly assisted in creating a more supportive environment for women in IT,” said Denham.

Social-networking tool LinkedIn and other face-to-face networking events are putting women in touch with one another in an effort to promote more flexible work and more part-time work.

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