February 22, 2018

Women in IT – The perfect fit

6 min read

It’s well known that the IT industry is male-dominated, with New Zealand being no exception to the trend. Although women gain qualifications at an 80% higher rate than men in New Zealand, many are not trained in areas projected to experience high growth. And in 2016, only 22% of students graduating with a Bachelor’s Degrees in Information Technology were women.

However, there’s now a conscious effort to encourage more women into IT — and the industry is already better for it. Global studies have found that companies in the upper quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above the industry average. And those companies with more diverse teams also have a 22% lower turnover rate.

With the industry continuing to expand, there’s a strong demand for qualified professionals, meaning there’s never been a better time for women to enter the IT sector. Here’s why women and a career in IT are the perfect fit.

More jobs provide great opportunity

Like the rest of the world, New Zealand’s IT sector is growing at a rapid pace. According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the sector contributed $3.6 billion to the country’s GDP in 2015, with contributions growing at a rate of 9% per year since 2007

MBIE’s numbers show that in 2016 there were over 10,700 more jobs in computer system design compared to 2010. With this sort of growth it’s no surprise that there are more vacancies in tech than any other industry in the country. As a whole, the sector now employs around 29,700 professionals in over 11,067 companies.

With growth projected to carry on, there is, and will continue to be, great demand for IT professionals. This is reassuring for women entering the sector as their tech skills and knowledge will be highly sought after by employers in this thriving industry.

Higher remuneration you for your knowledge

The plethora of IT jobs available are not the only rewards for women entering tech — the remuneration is also well above the New Zealand average. In fact, in 2016 the average wage for those in IT was $99,700 , close to double of the average wage of $52,950.

While this average salary may be out of reach for those first entering IT, the national median base salary for an IT professional in 2017 was still an impressive $80,000. What’s more, the median base salaries have shown a pattern of employers increasing wages in line with the ever-growing cost of living in urban centres. For city dwellers, it’s becoming more and more expensive to cover basic costs, but statistics show that wages in the IT industry are keeping pace, allowing IT workers to comfortably maintain their lifestyles.

An industry that lets your creativity flow

While stereotypes of IT professionals would have you believe it’s all screens of binary code, in reality it’s so much more. And just because you work in tech, doesn’t mean that you have to stifle your creativity — in fact, the industry is more creative than it gets credit for.

With IT evolving at such a fast rate over the last few decades, we’re now at a stage where those in tech are limited only by their imagination. From apps and games, to a rocket being launched into space, IT professionals have combined their technical knowledge with their creative minds to push the limits of technology.

Even for someone entering the IT sector for the first time, creative thinking is a highly sought after attribute. While technical know-how may be the cornerstone of a skill set, the challenges that arise in everyday work often require a dash of creativity in order for a project to reach its full potential.

The chance to change the world

Working in tech means an opportunity to work within an industry that has, in the last two decades alone, altered how we communicate, make connections, perform daily tasks and even what we think of as possible.

As businesses feel the pressure to constantly innovate, it’s worth noting that studies show that companies thrive when they have diverse teams. A London Business School report found that when innovation was crucial, having teams with a 50:50 gender balance was ideal. According to the research, this 50:50 split made for optimal team efficiency, experimentation and psychological safety. And further up the chain, it’s been found that firms with females in top management had improved financial performances , something especially true of companies with an emphasis on innovation.

The tech industry presents a real opportunity for women contemplating a career in IT to make a real change. Having the input of more women means different opinions and experiences will be taken into account, leading to better products and service for women being produced, and even to systematic changes in society. Although some changes may happen faster than others, the tech sector is a quick moving and young industry, making it the perfect place to introduce change.

A flexible work-life balance

While we live significantly different life to 60 years ago, many of us still struggle along, working the same outdated 9-to-5 model that our grandparents did. But while many industries haven’t changed with the times to allow a more reasonable work-life balance, the IT sector provides much more flexibility.

Due to IT jobs requiring little more than an internet connection and a computer, many workplaces offer employees the option of remote days, and even making their own schedules. This is not only beneficial for women with families, but also those looking to strike a work-life balance while still maintaining a strong career.

In some instances an entire company may work remotely, a setup which has given birth to “digital nomads” — those who travel the world while maintaining a job.

While working fully remote is on the extreme end of things, there are other flexible options in IT, including contract work. Our Absolute IT Wellington Report found that 47% of the female IT workforce were contracting, compared to 29% of the male IT workforce — with similar numbers found across the rest of the country. This is likely due to the flexible nature of this work, with contractors being able to set out working hours that best suit their lifestyle.

With the IT industry needing a steady stream of skilled professionals, and ready to actively invest in female employers, now is a great time for women to enter the tech sector.

Plus, with high average wages, the potential of flexible working conditions and the opportunity to be part of an innovative industry changing the world, an IT job is rewarding in numerous ways.

Absolute IT is dedicated to helping the tech industry diversify and achieve a better gender balance. If you’re thinking about a career in IT and would like more information about what that might look like, get in touch with us, submit your CV, or check out our latest IT job listings.

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