Gender discrimination rife in ICT sector

16 Jan 2003

A new survey has revealed that gender discrimination is believed to be worse in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector than in other sectors of industry.

The survey was presented by Dr Carol MacKeogh of the DCU School of Communications to the third Irish chapter meeting of Women in Technology International (WITI), which was attended by women at all stages of their careers in a diverse range of industries.

Some 84pc of the women surveyed were in senior and middle management positions and the majority (67pc) believed that they did not always receive the recognition they felt they deserved. The members felt that they did not do the necessary networking and politicking.

Respondents also identified problems in relation to the lack of family-friendly working conditions and many felt that taking time out of work negatively impacted on their careers and that there was a strong expectation by employers that, as women, they were likely to take time out sooner or later.

The survey found that the majority of respondents felt it was harder to gain promotion in the ICT sector than in other sectors.

Despite the fact that these women felt that they were competing under tough conditions, they tended to emphasise the need for women themselves to change in order to compete and play the game, rather than to change the rules.

Speaking on the widely-held belief that gender discrimination was at its worst in the ICT sector, Dr MacKeogh said: “This is surprising given the emphasis on brain not brawn, and the innovative nature of the sector. It might be commonly believed to provide greater opportunities to women, but this does not appear to be the case.”

WITI is a worldwide not-for-profit organisation with chapters in the US, Australia, Europe and Mexico and reaches over 500,000 people worldwide.

By John Kennedy