Australia cannot economically sustain ICT gender imbalance

Women make up 20 percent of ICT sector

Australia cannot economically sustain an imbalance of four men to one woman in the ICT workforce, an international leadership expert said today.

Dr Catherine Norton said IT skills give a country competitive advantages by underpinning all industries and the challenge for Australia is to attract more women into IT and science careers.

Currently in Australia women make up only 20 percent of the ICT sector.

To support more women in IT, Norton is delivering a series of leadership workshops next month in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The workshops, which focus on how to become a passionate leader, are part of a national program sponsored by Australian Women in Science and IT Entity (AWise) and funded by the Australian Government Office for Women.

EWise chair and creator of the controversial Screen Goddess IT Calendar, Sonja Bernhardt said Norton inspires women to find a worthy quest, develop an iron will and give back to the community.

"Dr Norton demonstrates that the communicative, organisational and analystic skills of women can strengthen the IT and science sectors," she said.

A number of women who were involved in the screen goddess calendar, which has so far sold more than 3000 copies, will participate in the workshop.

This includes Web coach and consultant Megyn Carpetner and Eduka operations manager Kara O'Halloran.

Also next month at the ITxpo Gartner symposium in Sydney, analysts will present research entitled 'women and men in IT: breaking through sexual stereotypes.'

The research examines which trends and stereotypes are shaping how women and men interact in the workplace.

The presentation will also look at how gender behavioural differences enhance or inhibit high-performing teams and how CEOs, CIOs and IT leaders can capitalize on gender diversity.

"Let's be frank: Men and women behave, think and operate differently. To pretend otherwise - for example, to ignore there are two sexes in the workplace -- is to ignore a fruitful and provocative input into IT team-building, leadership, talent management, global projects and innovation," according to the Gartner research paper which says the subject of gender differences remains behind closed doors.

The presentation aims to expose the conversation, analysis and myths of how behavioral differences of men and women can influence business and IT outcomes.

The ITxpo symposium is being held at the Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre in Sydney from November 14-18, 2006.

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