Gender separation across the ICT industry has had a significant impact on salaries in the sector, with women working in technical roles paid up to 28 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to research by the Information Technology and Contract Recruitment Association (ITCRA).
The research, based on data from the organisation’s SkillsMatch database which collates real-time data from Australian ICT recruitment firms and measures supply and demand for ICT skills, indicates certain roles in the industry attract women while others offer a lower salary.
ITCRA chief executive, Julie Mills, said the data echoed the public perception that the ICT industry has both traditionally masculine and feminine roles, and noted the impact of gender divisions on salaries. Overall, females earn 97 cents in the dollar compared to men.
“From a distance, it could be argued that there’s no significant pay gap in the ICT sector, but when we look closer, it’s clear both males and females are being actively encouraged into certain roles while simultaneously being actively discouraged from other roles, and this is entrenched by pay practices,” Mills said in a statement.
According to the data, ICT attracts a significant number of applications from younger women, however, the proportion varies greatly depending on the role. Women aged 25-34 make up 13 per cent of help desk applications, 33 per cent for business or process analyst roles, while 58 per cent account for ICT trainer roles.
Despite this, the research also indicates salaries are dependent on which roles are deemed male and female appropriate, with female ICT trainers paid more than males ($73,000 compared to $77,000), while male ICT trades workers earn more than their female counterparts ($85,000 compared to $72,000).
“Women are less well represented in ICT than in the general workforce; and women's representation decreases with age in the more technical fields," the document said.
"Yet women are better paid and represented in collaborative or communicative fields, such as ICT training or business development, than are their male counterparts."
The research notes traditional gender constructs depicting men as more competitive, having better technical skills and the willingness to separate family and work life. Women on the other hand are assumed to be less competitive, have “soft skills” and be mothers.
Mills pointed out the drop in unemployment throughout March this year, but noted the drop only applied to males while it increased for women.
“This could be due, in part, to increasing participation, but the fact is our economic growth is coming from a two-speed economy, where trades and technicians are in greater demand,” she said.
“If women aren’t in these roles, they will be left behind in terms of pay and job prospects.”
According to the paper, the industry is not practicing discrimination but conducts a “subtle” process where attitudes and assumptions encourage women into particular roles and men into others.
Mills recommended the industry consider a number of actions to overcome the challenges, including the monitoring of success, management of challenges and developing skills in recognising and addressing gender stereotypes.
“While gender stereotyping isn’t something that ICT recruiters can directly combat, they can assist ICT employers in bringing about positive change in their workplaces,” she said.
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