LinkedIn data shows Australian tech still has a gender diversity problem
Despite years of campaigning and developing programs, research from the first ever comprehensive analysis of the Australian technology sector using LinkedIn data, reveals the industry still faces a big gender diversity problem.
The study of Australian professional profiles on the social network by recruitment consulting firm Davidson Technology revealed just 14 per cent of executive roles in the local tech industry were held by women.
It found there were 435,000 people in IT listed on LinkedIn in Australia, but only 31 per cent were women. This contrasts to government data that showed 56 per cent of employees in the financial and insurance services sector were female.
Davidson Technology chief executive officer Brendan Kavenagh said aggressive targets had to be set to lift female participation in IT.
“The pointier you go the harder it is and the more protected some roles are,” he said. “I think it is about educating the people in those roles the importance of having more women participating and accepting that everyone can benefit from that.”
GHD chief information officer Elizabeth Harper said transitioning women in IT into more senior roles was a challenge for business.
“I suspect that gender-related biases are part of it,” she said. “We have run a program of making CVs anonymous so getting the names out so there is no bias as to whether it is a male or a female applicant.”
The industry could do better despite the “deep consciousness” it held around diversity, warned Hilda Clune, who is PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia chief information officer.
“We should be absolutely ambitious about women in technology leadership,” she said.
Ms Clune said the industry had to address everything from education all the way through to entry in middle management and senior management.
“I do think the strategies may be different at each of those levels and the core issues are different at each of those levels.”
NAB Women in Technology co-founder and divisional chief information officer Dayle Stevens said a 50:50 balance was not unachievable.
“What has stopped different programs in the past from being successful is that people were trying to solve a problem and I just don’t think it is an easy problem to solve,” said Ms Stevens, whose own team of 400 employees has a current female participation rate of 40 per cent.
The data showed women accounted for 54 per cent of program manager/project directors, 50 per cent of release manager and/or change managers, 47 per cent of designer roles, 43 per cent of business analysts and 40 per cent of test managers.
However, women made up only 18 per cent of systems engineers, 20 per cent of help desk staff, 21 per cent of architects, 27 per cent of developer/analyst programmer (back end), 28 per cent of project manager IT, 33 per cent of product managers and 33 per cent of data engineers.
NAB, which has a total of about 2400 technology staff, currently has 27 per cent of females in senior leader roles across technology – up from 18 per cent at the start of 2014.
It uses a multi-pronged approach that includes working with women to build confidence, supporting community groups that are working on the pipeline outside of NAB and a focus on inclusive leadership for all senior leaders.
GHD is also committed to achieving a 40 per cent female workforce by 2020 and 30 per cent professional and technical roles, which includes IT by 2020.
Source: Australian Business Review 14 June 2016