Women take up just 9 % of senior IT leadership roles, survey finds

Women take up just 9 % of senior IT leadership roles, survey finds
PHOTO: Reuters

Little progress is being made in representing women in senior IT leadership roles, according to a global survey of chief information officers (CIOs) released Tuesday.

The percentage of female IT leaders (such as CIOs, chief technology officers, or vice presidents of technology) remains at 9 per cent, the same last year, according to the 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey.

This survey of 4,498 CIOs and technology leaders, conducted online across 86 countries between December 2016 and April 2017, found little change in the number of women holding leadership roles, despite one third of organisations having diversity initiatives.

Of all the companies surveyed, 35 per cent said they had diversity initiatives in place to improve representation, and another 21 per cent planned to put some in place, but 44 per cent said they were happy with their diversity mix.

Fifty-three per cent of the time, companies only interviewed male candidates for a given role

Jessica Kirkpatrick, data scientist

"The proportion of women in IT leadership remains broadly the same this year, suggesting that any progress seen in previous years appears to have stalled," the survey stated.

"In smaller organisations, there are fewer women in IT leadership (8 per cent), compared with mid-sized organisations (11 per cent)."

Meanwhile, the survey also found that salaries for women were rising faster than male colleagues. Forty-two per cent of female IT leaders had a pay increase, compared to 32 per cent of male leaders.

"In a striking development, female respondents are far more likely to have received a salary increase compared with their male peers: Clear evidence perhaps that traditional gender salary inequalities may be starting to be addressed?," the survey report said.

One other suggestion for the pay rise is that many countries are now requiring firms to report on the gender pay gap within their organisation. For instance, the UK introduced this requirement in April, obligating firms with more than 250 staff to publish the gender pay gap between their male and female employees.

The gender pay gap is a hot button issue for many. A recent report from job recruitment website Hired found that in 63 per cent of cases, women received a lower salary offer than a man for the same job. The offer was on average 4 per cent lower.

Jessica Kirkpatrick, a data scientist for Hired, warned that gender bias also influenced access to opportunities.

"Fifty-three per cent of the time, companies only interviewed male candidates for a given role, whereas the reverse was true just 6 per cent of the time," she said in a blog post in April.

"Long term, these kinds of biases may explain why US women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are 45 per cent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within their first year."

The CIO survey also raised concerns about the consistent skills shortage in technology, with 62 per cent of IT leaders saying there's a shortfall. These shortages are uneven across the world. Only 53 per cent of leaders in North America reported an IT skills shortage, while 68 per cent of leaders in Asia-Pacific said it's a problem.

"In each of the last four years, around 60 per cent of respondents have reported skills shortages," said Jonathan Mitchell, non-executive chair of global CIO practice at Harvey Nash, in the report's executive summary.

"This is very different to the heady days before the Great Recession when four out of five respondents persistently complained about this problem. Is this the new normal?," he added.

Data analytics is the most in-demand skill, according to the CIO survey. Enterprise architecture, business analysis and technical architecture were the next most in demand.

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