Survey shows ICT gender gap continues to widen

Women make up 20 percent of ICT sector

The gender divide continues to widen as professional women in the science, engineering and technology sector do not receive equal pay for equal work.

A preview of a survey to be released by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA), found more than 25 per cent of professional women reported a pay disparity with their male counterparts.

For women with business qualifications and those in senior management positions, the figure was much higher at over 40 percent.

APESMA national women's co-ordinator, Erin Wood said the preliminary report on the Women in the Professions survey will be released on March 28, 2007 at parliament house in Canberra.

"One of the findings from our research is that female professionals are not getting any closer to bridging the pay divide," Wood said.

"The trend over the past seven years has not changed. Our research has consistently shown that professional women do not believe they are being equally compensated for the work they do.

"OECD reports substantiate our findings. The recent Gender Gap Index, ranked Australia 45th out of 115 OECD nations on wage equality for similar work.

"It is very disappointing that this problem remains despite an acute skills shortage and high demand for technology professionals."

Wood said the new industrial relations system impedes the resolution of this problem, as over 41percent of respondents also indicated that they are not confident about negotiating good remuneration and working conditions with their employer.

"The role of government and industry will be to reverse this trend and to encourage women in the technology professions to remain in or to re-enter the workforce at a time of a skills shortage", she said.

The survey, which was supported by the Federation of Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS), supports similar findings released by Computerworld Australia magazine last year.

According to the Computerworld salary survey 2006, which covered 400 IT professionals in Australia, the average salary for a male IT professional is $98,684 compared to $81,906 for a female.

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

Gartner analyst, Diane Morello, said the poor pay figures are symbolic of the obstacles and roadblocks that are sending women away from IT in droves.

Late last year Morello presented a maverick study called "Men and Women in IT: Breaking through Sexual Stereotypes."

Morello said IT departments should look beyond gender to the unique and vital characteristics that women bring to a high-performance team.

She said research shows that women listen better than men, possess better language skills and score better on assessments of social skills and ability to understand other people's views, which aids in team-building and negotiations.

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