Research has helped address gender inequalities in the male-dominated Information Technology sector.
Research by geographers at The Open University has helped stakeholders address the problem of gender inequalities in the male-dominated Information Technology sector.
Underrepresentation of women in the IT sector has been a chronic global problem, including in the UK. According to a Women in Tech 2019 study, tackling gender equality in the IT labour market and supporting women to get into leadership roles could contribute to filling the UK’s skills shortages and is thus worth £2.6 billion per year to the UK economy.
The UK figure of 15% women in the IT labour force stands in stark contrast to India’s success in attaining a critical mass of 35% of women in IT.
Research conducted as part of the Gender, Skilled Migration and IT (GSM-IT) project compared the experiences of migrant and non-migrant professionals in the IT sector in India and UK.
Working in partnership with NASSCOM, the team developed and tested a tripartite model for impact through co-production, industry/sector outputs and continued engagement.
GSM-IT research has produced the Women and IT Scorecard (WITS) which identified factors that enable women’s entry and progression within the IT sector in India, and the limitations that lead to poor retention of women. These findings were summarised in the report Bridging the IT skills gap: lessons from India and women IT expatriates: global lessons from India.
The reports were published as NASSCOM co-badged outputs and offered to industry partners through its publication portal. NASSCOM’s Diversity and Inclusion arm immediately responded to the WITS findings on the sector’s shortcomings with the Women Wizards Rule Tech (W2RT) programme. This introduces women to future and emerging technologies to support women’s career retention and progression within the sector. W2RT has reached over 4,500 women from 100 companies since it was developed and piloted in 2018. The programme has contributed to the continued personal and professional development of the participants.
International organisations have used insights from WITS to challenge conventional understanding of the barriers to women’s entry into IT professions and offered best practice on how to address the problem. For example, a DFID-funded report entitled Gender Inclusion in Hiring in India recommended companies use more gender-balanced forms of recruitment (offline instead of online), directly citing findings from the WITS report. Similarly, the McKinsey Global Institute’s The Power of Parity report targeting Asian businesses and national stakeholders cites the WITS report in its recommendation of targeted support for women when they become mothers to raise retention and enhance their career progression.
Impact case study: Results and submissions: REF 2021
Research compares UK and India IT industries to address shortage of women in UK IT - The Open University
Institution: The Open University
Researchers: Professor Parvati Raghuram, Dr Gunjan Sondhi
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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Addressing gender inequalities in IT: UK and India. Available at www.rgs.org/Addressing-gender-inequalities-in-IT-UK-and-India Last accessed on: <date>
Featured image: Christin Hume / Unsplash
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