When looking at the problems related to women in IT jobs it seems we’re faced with something of a catch twenty-two situation : there are few women in IT jobs, yet companies claim that they receive few CVs from women.
The root of the problem could therefore lie with IT training programs, which have a female intake of only 8 to 10%. So why do girls not opt for IT as a subject in upper secondary school education ?
Perhaps because at primary and secondary school level they are not encouraged to take an interest in IT. Far fewer girls play video games compared with boys, and parents tend to give computers to their sons rather than to their daughters. What’s more, when it comes to the parents, it’s often dad rather than mum who takes charge of selecting the computer and deal with problems related to Internet connection and so on. The technology is seen, and represented, as being masculine.
The media strengthens these stereotypes through the images it portrays and these stereotypes in turn hold girls back from taking up a career in IT. And with so few women in IT jobs, is it any wonder therefore that working conditions are so unattractive to people who have family responsibilities ?
This all seems highly discouraging and it would be easy to think that there are no – and never will be any – women in IT jobs. And yet there are women – ranging from high-flyers to run-of-the-mill - working in IT. But why not in greater numbers ? And why aren’t they more visible ? And what can be done to make the IT sector less predominantly male ?
These are the very questions the ADA project has been trying to help resolve since 2001 in the three Belgian regions, both through continuous reflection and by introducing schemes at grassroots level.