Overall, no one will argue the IT job market is hot, very hot. For the average IT worker, the number of job opportunities is at an all-time high. However, a recent study conducted by IT staffing firm VisionPRO, found some segments of the tech workforce don't feel those opportunities are available to them. For example, 68 percent of IT workers believe "even though the demand for IT workers is growing, I don't personally feel there are a lot of job opportunities available to me."
For female IT workers, the situation becomes even more alarming. Nearly twice the number of men, 43 percent of female IT workers don't personally feel there are a lot of job opportunities available to them.
There is a growing reliance among U.S. companies to hire more women in the workplace, to drive innovation, leadership, productivity, and even the health of the U.S. economy. As the U.S. now depends greater on knowledge and work done with the mind as opposed to work done with the hands, women represent the greatest potential for increasing a technologically-trained workforce.
However, there is much progress to be made towards this end. The average percentage of women working in the tech industry is a mere 30 percent, based on diversity reports published by 11 of the world's largest tech companies last year. In comparison, women make up 59% of the U.S. labor force and almost 51% of the U.S. population. With women holding nearly half of the jobs in the U.S. economy, the disproportionate numbers in tech are troubling to many.
The Business Case for Hiring More Female IT Talent
Overall, gender diversity in organizations is simply good business. In fact, in Diversity Inc.'s top 50 companies, gender diversity accounted for a difference of $599 million in average sales revenue. And, organizations that support diversity and inclusion at high levels, saw an 80 percent improvement in business performance. The research is clear, workforces made up of diverse skills and backgrounds are able to deliver better performance, and innovation.
Within the IT landscape, female workers are a valuable asset because they are highly focused on growing their skills and furthering their careers. According to the VisionPRO survey, female IT workers are more likely to name "the opportunity to learn new skills" as what matters most to them when considering a job or assignment, while men are most likely to name "salary."
In addition, 65% of female IT workers said "a job where I receive slightly lower pay, but where I can work on emerging, innovative technologies" as most appealing to them.
Tapping Into the Female IT Workforce
For companies seeking to lure female IT talent to their organization, the VisionPRO study identified both how these workers land their jobs, but also what they seek from a potential employer.
When it comes to finding jobs, many female IT workers are leveraging staffing firms to further their career. Like, VisionPRO these staffing firms have access to excellent IT positions with well sought after companies. With the rise of the "gig economy" or "on-demand" workforce, more female workers are beginning to opt for non-traditional employment. In fact, 21 percent of female respondents in the VisionPRO survey said they are currently working as a temporary, vs. just nine percent of men. And, 46 percent of female IT workers landed their last job through a staffing/recruitment firm.
The type of projects a company offers is also a key contributor to recruiting female IT professionals. For example, "the type of project I will be working on" was the second most important factor to them when considering a job or assignment, after "the opportunity to learn new skills." Big data and cybersecurity are the top two most desirable IT jobs today, according to female IT workers.
Given this landscape, employers vying for top female tech talent will reap tremendous benefits by meeting their desires and expectations to grow their skills and work on emerging projects. Consider implementing the following measures to help attract, engage and retain more female technology skilled talent:
Establish a detailed and clear path for advancement, in the organization for IT talent.
Make it easy and accessible for IT workers to take advantage of skill development & training opportunities, be flexible with schedules to accommodate professional development.
Promote your commitment to, and availability of, IT growth opportunities as part of your employer brand and culture.
Position your organization as an innovator, advertise emerging technologies or solutions within your company.
Pay for ongoing training and development of IT staff, reimburse them for relevant online classes, industry certifications or courses.
Build mentoring programs or opportunities to learn from industry leaders or internal subject matter experts.
Hold innovation sessions where employees can educate each other on skills, conduct hack-a-thons, or explore innovative project ideas.
Companies are facing a war for technical talent. It will become more crucial to get more women into technology roles today and in the future. Business and community leaders will need to support women in IT through internships, training, and educational opportunities. Diversity programs are also important to bring more job opportunities to women and to combat inherent bias that may exist during hiring decisions.
And, although progress has been made with the increasing of women in technology roles, there is still more to be done to bridge this gap. VisionPRO
, is at the forefront of driving to increase these numbers by participating in Women in Technology events around the country, offering paid internships to young women with an interest in IT and many other initiatives.