Having recently discussed the fact that IT skills are lacking among contractors, we were interested to come across an article on Contractor UK which argues that female IT professionals could provide the solution.
As a demographic, females are under-represented in IT contracting, making up just 17% of the market. Flexible working has grown significantly over the last few years, particularly in the field of IT, and the government has granted every working person in the UK the right to ask for flexible working hours. Therefore, one would expect contract work to be an attractive option for women.
However, there are some aspects of the role that may put off female candidates, the article explains. The key concern stated by women is uncertainty about maternity leave; but there are also concerns about guaranteed pay, particularly if they have mortgages to pay or school fees to cover.
There needs to be more information available to women about the many benefits of contract or freelance work, and the fact that in most cases it pays more than working as an employee. The flexibility also offers a real opportunity for a balanced work and home life, which will suit women who have had children.
Similarly, if they are returning to employment after taking time off to have children, contracting will expose them to more opportunities than a traditional full-time role – which means that they will be able to progress their professional career more rapidly.
Thankfully, a BCSWomen study shows that organisations are starting to promote IT positions towards women, with one fifth speaking to female university graduates about a career in IT. The research shows that most companies believe that additional women in tech teams would "improve communication, boost morale and bring fresh ideas".
However, there is still a lot to be done. The same study reveals that only 9% of women who study IT continue it as a career – which certainly raises alarm bells. As the article states, companies who fail to encourage female workers are essentially missing out on talent from half the workforce.