Still too Few Women in the Computer Field

Information technology has transformed the world of work. Has it done anything to change the gaps in employment between men and women, though? An OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) report published last April sheds some light on this issue for the OECD’s 30 member countries, including Canada. 

To identify information and communication technology (ICT) workers, two definitions were used: the first designates only ICT specialists, those that provide ICT tools (hardware and software); the second, broader definition includes workers who make heavy use of ICT in their work. With this broad definition, the employment rate of women is significant, representing between 30 and 50% of employees by country. However, the share of women goes down to between 10 and 20% on average for ICT specialist jobs, like a system administrator or network administrator.

In Canada, the employment rate of women in 2001 was very different depending on the specialty—from 15% for software engineers to 42% for database administrators. However, the overall employment rate of women in the ICT field, at 27%, was much lower than the average rate of 47% for all occupations.

ICT specialist jobs, with their very technical image, attract fewer women. To reduce these differences, the role of public authorities is crucial. They must promote programs aiming to achieve a better balance between men and women. They should also immediately improve the image of ICT jobs to attract more students and motivate women to stay in ICT-related jobs. An encouraging sign is that the gap between the genders as concerns Internet access and ICT use has significantly decreased in all countries.

Latest articles by
Comments network