Why Are Women Disinterested in IT?

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has forecast the creation of some 216,000 new jobs in Canada’s digital economy by 2021, reaching a total of 1,637,000 positions. Many are accompanied by interesting salaries and conditions. Yet the ICTC notes that over the past decade the proportion of women in the field has not exceeded 25%. Why? Is the world of IT a masculine atmosphere?

Chloé Freslon, founder of the blog URelles, producer of the podcast of the same name and co-founder of the Women in Tech Manifesto, believes that if there are few women in the IT world, “it is primarily because they rarely choose these studies, because the careers are not presented from an angle that might interest them: a computer scientist is portrayed in his basement hacking governments, not creating applications for the good of humanity.”

The president and CEO of the Quebec Technology Association (AQT), Nicole Martel, agrees. “Women are not aware of all the sector’s possibilities,” she says. “They may know how to code or be programmers, but an IT company also has needs in finance, marketing, sales, human resources… And they can become leaders of practise, because IT covers all industries.”

The two experts insist on the fact that several IT companies are seeking employees with so-called feminine skills, such as teamwork, good communication, curiosity and empathy. “In cybersecurity, you have to put yourself in the shoes of hackers and ask yourself how they could make the client vulnerable,” Ms. Freslon says. “For that, you do not need to know how to program. You first have to like to probe and try to get into people’s heads…”

She adds that “the labour shortage is much too great for employers to refuse women applicants who want more flexible schedules or to work remotely to reconcile their personal and professional lives.”

Finally, many companies seem to underestimate the discomfort their work environment can create. “The places often give off a more masculine atmosphere — the accent is on sports, there are no adapted toilets, etc. — which repels some applicants, even if they are interested in the position,” notes Ms. Martel. “IT employers should strive towards having a non-gendered atmosphere.”


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