Girls may be better at IT than boys, according to the Ministry of Education. A report from the Ministry shows that New Zealand schoolgirls outperform boys at every level. More than twice as many boys as girls took NCEA-level Digital Technologies classes last year, but proportionately more girls obtained excellence than boys.
So why does the IT industry still struggle to attract women?
According to the Institute of Professional Engineers, there are three major barriers to achieving diversity in engineering:
- The stereotype that engineering is male-dominated
- The culture of universities and the industry
- And the biases of caregivers and careers advisors.
The same could be said of many industries which have historically been male-dominated, including IT.
“What we are dealing with is a stereotype that there’s a certain person who might work in IT, and that might not be attractive to a broad spectrum,” Datacom Communications Director Erica Lloyd recently told TV3’s The Nation.
“We know the disparity is in new grads coming out of universities. The vast proportion of them are male.”
There are two reasons the industry might want to encourage more women into technology. First, the IT industry is currently facing a skills shortage, with no end in sight. Second, studies show that companies with women on their boards experience higher financial performance.
“A range of skills, a range of thoughts and a range of people provides the resilience to solve really hard problems,” says Lloyd.
At Datacom, we believe encouraging women into technology starts early. That’s why we’ve been sending our experts into Auckland girls’ schools to teach girls about technology while they’re still in high school and making their university and career decisions. And we have had great results – students who attended Datacom’s after-school classes had significantly better results than the 2013 average for the same Programming and Planning standards. In the Level 1 Programming course, for example, failure rates in all schools averaged 34.2 percent. In the six schools Datacom was involved in, the non-pass rate was cut by two thirds to 10.3 percent.
But regardless of who you are or where you come from, we’re committed to raising awareness of the excitement, reward and challenge that a career in technology can offer anyone. Get involved.