The IT world has often been viewed as a man's world, but the hiring of more women into the sector can bring many benefits.
By increasing the number of women working in the ICT sector, not only can the current skills shortage be eased, but many other benefits will also surface. ICT is everywhere and all help is welcome to facilitate its expansion. Women, therefore, must become better represented within the sector.
Encouraging women into IT must start early
It is well-known that the demand for IT professionals remains well in excess of its supply. As an IT recruiter I experience this every day, first-hand! Despite the skills shortage, no fewer than one million IT-related vacancies are expected in Europe in 2020. These roles cannot be filled by the current candidate pool, which is still dominated by men. It is time to bring IT into the spotlight of more women.
To engage more women, the problem needs to be tackled early. More women need to be encouraged to follow an education in technical fields. Research within the OECD shows that nowhere else do so few women study IT than in Belgium. But, in order to encourage more women to study IT, their interest should be piqued and nurtured at an early age.
Today, the needs of the IT sector are more diverse than when compared to 10-15 years ago. It requires more skills centered around creativity, networking, servicing, vision, collaboration, communication, etc. These are competencies that may appeal more to women now, than the purely functional role of IT in the past. Educational institutions need to emphasise this change in focus within the sector to encourage more women to apply for ICT courses. A career in IT is interesting, challenging and varied. It can offer long-term career prospects and (perhaps the icing on the cake) it is a well-paid sector.
Diversity in IT: a boost for your organization
If the shortage of talent in the IT sector can be partially solved by the hiring of more female employees, it can also be argued that quality may also be improved. The fact is that more diversity ensures smarter teams which, in turn, can make organizations more successful.
Why? Simply put, someone with different character traits and different ways of thinking should lead you to challenge yourself and question whether there may be a better solution at hand, resulting in better performance.
Teams with sufficient diversity tend to investigate facts more often and process them more carefully. They are able to judge more objectively and view new ideas from different perspectives. This can all help to give IT businesses the edge over competitor companies. A diverse team brings new views and thinking patterns, and drives innovation³.
An organization will only be innovative if it leaves its comfort zone and changes its traditional structures. And let's face it, which company doesn't want to be recognized as being innovative in today’s ICT sector?