More than seven in ten (71 per cent) Australian CIOs see a future where women will be on par with men for at least non-management roles, as attitudes towards gender diversity shift across the country.
When compared globally, specialist recruitment firm Robert Half suggest that Australian sentiment towards women in technology is more reassuring.
Findings show that 37 per cent of Australian CIOs forecasting that women will be on par with men in both staff and leadership roles – ranking second behind France (50 per cent), but well ahead of Asia (24 per cent) and the UK (25 per cent).
Delving deeper, merely four per cent of CIOs around the world see women holding the majority of both staff and leadership roles – a figure which rises to six per cent in Australia.
However, there are still some barriers to overcome, as more than one in three (34 per cent) Australian CIOs hold the belief that, despite women reaching parity in staff levels, men will continue to hold the majority of leadership roles.
This compares with an average of 46 per cent of CIOs across Brazil, France, Germany, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, who foresee male dominance continuing in the sector.
“The technology sector is experiencing exponential growth, particularly within the Big Data, cyber-security and mobile spaces,” Robert Half Australia director, Nicole Gorton, said.
“And while gender imbalance within the sector has long been recognised as an ongoing issue, with 91 per cent of Australian CIOs saying they find it challenging to source skilled IT candidates, it is more important than ever for women to enter the IT sector and obtain positions across the chain of command.”
The most recent analysis of Labour Force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) comparing the female to male representation of IT workers in Australia shows the proportion of female employees across IT divisions has dropped as the sector has expanded.
When asked about the challenges the IT industry imposes on women working in the sector, 53 per cent of Australian CIOs believe challenging existing stereotypes within the industry is the greatest barrier, followed by proving their competence (49 per cent).
Meanwhile, other industry challenges women have to overcome include proving their competence (49 per cent), overcoming impersonal/cultural considerations (41 per cent) and earning respect (31 per cent).
Almost one in four (24 per cent) CIOs refer to overcoming a male-dominated workplace.
The survey findings suggest that misconceptions and stereotypes within the industry, rather than concerns about technical competencies and professional capabilities, are the main barriers obstructing progression for women in the IT field, with only 11 per cent of Australian CIOs believing that there are no challenges for women in the sector.
“Improving female representation within the technology workforce will not be without challenges and requires an encompassing approach, starting with positioning IT as an attractive career path for both men and women,” Gorton added.
“Secondly, in order to challenge this traditionally male-dominated environment and channel more women into their technology teams, Australian companies need to further encourage workplace diversity and promote the added value of a balanced workforce to the wider business community.
“The fastest growing jobs in Australia require STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths - knowledge and skills.”
With insufficient Australian talent in the pipeline, Gorton said investing in education and encouraging women to stay engaged in STEM-related education and careers remains a “vital step” towards increasing and ensuring the full representation of female IT professionals and leaders.
“With more opportunities in the IT sector, this presents a fantastic opportunity for women aspiring to work in IT as companies are looking for IT candidates with strong skill sets who can spread value across the board,” Gorton added.
“Furthermore, ambitious women working in IT need to seize opportunities and position themselves for advancement and leadership roles.”
Nominations close for the 2016 Women in ICT Awards on October 28, which recognise and celebrate female excellence in the ICT channel, rewarding professional achievements and outstanding results in the industry.
To nominate please click here