With the Australian technology sector currently navigating a period of revolutionary change, the challenges facing employers of IT talent are continuing to mount.
As critical talent shortages impacted many industries over the past decade, the IT industry was particularly hard-hit. Post-COVID, the closure of international bordersmade the shortage of available technology talent in Australia even more acute.Today, even with migrant talent flows returning to near pre-pandemic volumes, the IT industry continues to feel the talent squeeze.
In the decade-long rush to meet the demands of priority projects, the IT sector seems to have lost sight of one key demographic – women.
Unfortunately, women are heavily underrepresented in both the Australian and global technology sector. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals just 29% of the Australian ICT workforce are female, an extraordinary statistic and an insight into an area that could prove pivotal to reducing the IT talent crunch in the years ahead.
Across the board we know-governments, schools, and universities are proactively targeting young females and working to ignite a passion for a career in technology, but that is a long-term strategy of which the benefits will not be seen for many years. Surely there is more that organisations can be doing right now to attract, welcome and engage women into technology roles.
And here's the exciting part - diverse teams excel. Studies have repeatedly shown that companies with more than 30% female representation in executive roles outperform those with fewer or no female executives. It’s time to reverse this trend of under-representation.
Technology companies need to bust the stereotype that “you must be technically skilled to work in technology industry”. According to Vanessa Sorenson, Chief Partner Officer at Microsoft ANZ, the perception that women don’t have the right skills has stopped 59% of women surveyed from pursuing a digital career.
Despite the preconceived notion that a job in the technology industry is heavily dependent on programming and technical skills, Vanessa highlights that these skills can be learned, and technology projects also require creativity, good people skills and communication.
Attracting and Retaining Women in Technology
To secure a competitive edge, technology companies need to nurture a passion for technology from a young age. Currently, only 21% of students enrolled in university IT courses are women. It'scritical that females are encouraged to cultivate their interest in technology throughout their teenage years. Partnering with and supporting existing networks of female technology industry mentors focuses on converting an interest in technology into a degree and/or a profession, marking a great starting point for organisations wanting to move the needleregardingfemale representation in the industry.
Empowering Women in Leadership
The under-representation of women in technology extends into the leadership sphere, leading many young, emerging female technology professionals to become disenfranchised.
Given the number of women hired for IT leadership positions globally rose from 33.3% in 2016 to 36.9% in 2022 suggests that unconscious biases still exists within the industry, despite efforts to change.
Ways to address this imbalance includes proactively engaging females with development opportunities, as well as creating mentorship and support groups within organisations.
The future of the Australian IT sector is a vibrant one, where diversity and inclusion reign supreme. By focusing on the positive steps, we can take, we can unlock the full potential of female talent, and strengthen the Australian technology industry.