Ramping up efforts to get more women into technology-facing jobs is forecast to be extremely beneficial for the Australian economy, as not moving on the opportunity will see the nation miss out on $11 billion over the next two decades.
This is according to the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) Digital Pulse 2021 report, which claimed that while women hold about 47 per cent of all job positions in the country, the number of those in technology jobs is a smaller margin, with 29 per cent of technology-related positions held by women.
Modelling undertaken by ACS found that increasing the number of employed women in the Australian tech sector to 48 per cent would require an additional 382,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, which would be achieved by 2053.
The benefits, the ACS claimed, could lead to the potential of $1.8 billion generated each year over the next 20 years on average, resulting in the generation of $11 billion in net present value terms over the period.
How this can then be achieved, the report said, comes down to dismantling current societal norms generating unconscious bias in hiring through the promotion of best practices on attracting, retaining and recruiting talent.
This has the potential to then lead to more women studying IT degrees. To supplement this, the ACS also suggested to improve access to technology during schooling, claiming that Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that women disproportionately arrive at university without previous exposure to computing.
Other means of achieving these measures, according to the report, include flexible work arrangements and reskilling opportunities to provide a knowledge base for those moving from other industries, as well as adopting board diversity goals, establishing mentoring programs, and promoting more women to leadership positions or with higher pay.
The ACS’ findings on diversity in tech come among the broader findings of the report, which claimed that the Australian IT sector is forecast to grow by 5.4 per cent on average per year to a total of 1.1 million workers by 2026 — more than four times the expected growth rate of the work force at large.
“As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and smart cities become commonplace, the demand for suitably skilled workers will continue to grow. We must start working today to meet the digital skill needs of tomorrow,” ACS president Ian Oppermann said.