Women urgently needed – ways to make the information technology sector more attractive

Since the need for qualified staff in information technology steadily increases, once again the voices for more women to work in STEM areas have become loud. The Irish Times asked successful women in that field about their career development and summarised some possible actions in order to better utilise female potential also in IT.

According to a recent article in ‘The Irish Times’, estimates of the European Commission indicate that there will be about 825,000 job vacancies in the information technology sector in Europe in 2020. In order to solve this shortage, employers will need all the qualified specialists that they can get. But at the moment, just a few of them are women. This clearly is not reflecting their real potential. The newspaper aptly states that “the gender gap in tech is not only a missed opportunity for women, but for businesses as well”.

One reason for such a small number of women in STEM-related professions is a reduced motivation of school girls to engage in those subjects that are frowned upon as being full of geeky, anti-social nerds. In Ireland, one step to overcome that image is taken by the Irish Software Research Center Lero that took interested girl to a computing camp in Limerick.

Another Irish initiative launched in July 2015 is called the “Outbox Incubator”. Over 120 entrepreneurial girls could use this opportunity to learn, share their ideas and network. One of the co-founders, Mary Carty, believes in the potential of young girls and points out that they need to support and mentor each other, but also have to be supported by male colleagues.

A noteworthy recruitment campaign was conducted in San Francisco by the IT company OneLogin. Together with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, a photo of platform engineer Isis Wenger spread exceedingly fast via Twitter. While her picture attracts women to take a closer look into IT, Isis Wenger states that this campaign is meant to be widely inclusive, not only for women.

But changing the image of the ‘typical’ employee in a STEM subject is a first step to encourage young women to look for all possible opportunities of profession. Networking events for women are also useful to establish female role models – and once done, those events focusing on women might become unnecessary by themselves. In the end, gender parity might be reached. And that is not just beneficial for women, but equally so for business.