Diversity and computing – we have a problem

Does IT have a diversity problem?

Diversity is an issue that goes straight to the bottom line. The IT industry uniquely can do something about diversity, and turn it to it’s advantage.

Most IT employers complain about a shortage of qualified staff and employers in Northern Ireland aren’t any different.
A few weeks ago, I met a large Northern Ireland IT company that told me there are 1,000 Java vacancies here alone.
Java developers in Northern Ireland command salaries of £ 26,000 – £ 50,000 per year.
Put it another way, the local economy is losing at least £26,000,000 a year.

In the UK generally, IT makes up 4% of the total work force and in Northern Ireland its about 1% and growing.

But here are three statistics about the IT workforce that are interesting and troubling. They show that diversity is an issue. Put quite simply, as a proportion of the total IT workforce, men are over represented.

17% of the IT workforce is female. (Northern Ireland it’s 18%)

This number has been static for some time and its hard to see why.
Is it the issues we normally associate with female participation in the workforce such as working mums and the need for flexibility?
Or maybe it’s the unusual hours that we tend to work. As an industry we should be better than most at supporting flexible working.

Women played a very important role in the history of IT, and we really should be doing better. @bcswomen

History of women in computing and  6 female computing pioneers

9% of the UK IT workforce is disabled, Northern Ireland has the lowest level of representation, 3%

This is bad enough, but salaries are 13% lower.
Maybe disabled professionals tend to work in the third sector where salaries are probably not as generous,
But the industry is ignoring an important source of skilled staff.

About 25% of the work force in South West and East England are over 50 and that drops to 13% in Northern Ireland (me!!) and London

The IT industry is still a young and growing industry, so maybe its inevitable that over 50’s seem to be under represented.
The modern IT industry in Northern Ireland is only 15 or 20 years old.
Up until then we exported most of our talent.
Surely this situation will change over time.

Every year the British Computer Society (the Chartered Institute for Information Technology) produces an employment survey.

If you would like to know more about the survey and its contents, its accessible to all members of the British Computer Society.

British Computer Society