ICT devoid of diversity

by Cameron Edmond23 Sep 2013

‘Alarming’ levels of discrimination and gender imbalance continue to plague the ICT industry, as found by The Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) latest Employment Survey.

The survey was completed by 5113 ICT professionals, 15.4% of whom were female. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents were aged between 25 and 54, 14% over 55 and 8.4% under 25.

The study found that no ICT position held a female participation rate over 30%, with the highest sitting at 28.9% (ICT Business Analyst) and 26.7% (ICT Academic).

Thirty-four per cent of respondents indicated they had been discriminated against. Of this amount, 42% were females citing gender-based discrimination.

“These numbers should serve as a wake-up call for employers who think they can discriminate against people on any basis, but especially on the ground of gender,” Alison Orr, director of the ACS Women’s Board, said. “It should be abundantly clear that an ICT professional is an ICT professional regardless of their age or whether their name is John or Jane. “We, and no doubt other industry associations, would take an extraordinarily dim view of employers who persist in this archaic practice of discrimination. It simply has no place in 2013,” she stated.

Pending the release of a full report, Alan Patterson, CEO of ACS brought attention to the industry’s discrimination against older workers, as well. “We need the support of employers to keep ICT professionals working, and their age shouldn’t be a factor,” he said.

Discrimination on the basis of age is not limited to Australia, with older professionals finding it harder to land positions they are qualified for in Silicon Valley, the US hub for tech and ICT start-ups.

As the industry continues to grow and Silicon Valley remains a hotbed of activity, older workers who have held senior positions for years are finding themselves unable to land work.

"It's been quite a shock, coming out of a job I had for over 10 years," Robert Honma a 49-year-old who has held a number of high-ranking positions at tech companies for years, told The San Francisco Chronicle. Honma has struggled to find steady work recently, despite his impressive resume.

This discrimination is believed to be driven by the assumption that older workers are unable to keep up with the changes in the industry. This is compounded by the fact they are less likely to work around-the-clock (likely to have more responsibilities), and will be more expensive to hire. The need for managers has also decreased in recent years.

"There's been a big paradigm shift, especially with the cloud. It's made a lot of managers irrelevant who don't have the technical experience," Honma added.

 

Further reading

Women in tech: The sexist culture blocking their progression

CEO’s Vogue spread sparks controversy  

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