Study explores why women switch off from computer sciences


CDU senior lecturer in Business Dr Susan Bandias is investigating the ICT sector’s gender gap

CDU senior lecturer in Business Dr Susan Bandias is investigating the ICT sector’s gender gap

A series of national surveys on women’s employment experiences in Information Communication Technology (ICT) has provided insight into the sector’s gender gap.

Discrimination, low wages, and career stagnation were identified by more than 2000 female ICT employees participating in the surveys conducted by Charles Darwin University researchers.

Next month, the researchers will present their most recent findings from the 2008, 2010 and 2013 surveys at the Annual Tokyo Business Research Conference in Japan.

CDU senior lecturer in Business Dr Susan Bandias said the surveys aimed to discover whether employment experiences contributed to an under-representation of women in ICT.

“According to an Australian Computer Society report, women represent 28 per cent of the workforce,” Dr Bandias said.

“Very few women are seeking to join this extremely male-dominated sector and the problem appears to be getting worse.”

She said participants identified workplace culture and lack of mentoring as the main reasons preventing career advancement, followed by lack of promotion and a male-dominated environment.

“The pool for handing out promotions is much greater for the men due to the large proportion of male employees to choose from in the industry,” Dr Bandias said.

She said survey participants were concerned that their skills were undervalued and they were not recognised as professionals in the workplace.

Other issues identified included lack of defined career pathways or training opportunities, pressure to relocate for promotion, and lack of support for workers returning from maternity leave.

Dr Bandias said women in their mid to late 30s experienced the greatest career dissatisfaction, with 41 per cent of female workers leaving technology companies after 10 years, compared with 17 per cent of males.

“As women make up approximately 50 per cent of the workforce, industry and the wider economy could benefit from having more women progressing in the sector,” Dr Bandias said.

The most recent survey findings were co-authored by Dr Bandias, CDU senior lecturer in Marketing Dr Rajeev Sharma and lecturer in Business Roopali Misra.

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