Women in IT Face Continued Obstacles to Career Advancement

Despite efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion, progress for women in IT has stalled, and job satisfaction rates are declining, a Skillsoft survey finds.

Nathan Eddy

March 30, 2023

4 Min Read
frustrated woman on laptop

There is a growing gender gap among IT professionals and a shortage of women in senior leadership positions, even as leadership and management rose to the top skill area of interest for women in tech, according to Skillsoft's 2023 Women in Tech report.

Among tech professionals with more than 26 years of experience, 15% of men hold executive leadership positions, compared with just 4% of women.

They study also revealed that nearly half (45%) of women surveyed report being outnumbered by men in the workplace by ratios of 4:1 or greater — a notable increase from the 25% who said the same in 2021.

Women in IT also report that they are growing more dissatisfied with their positions, citing a lack of growth potential, which is also leading more than a third (36%) to consider changing jobs due to a lack of equity in opportunities.

Daly pulled quote


Despite many efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech industry, progress for women has not only stalled, but it appears to be reversing, according to Orla Daly, chief information officer at Skillsoft.

"More work is needed to not only increase the number of women entering the industry, but to support women at all levels as they advance and build their careers in technology," she said, noting that growth is a major pain point for many women tech professionals.

Related:A History of Trailblazing Women in STEM

With job satisfaction rates declining overall, the gender gap could become even more pronounced if the problem goes unaddressed and growth opportunities are not provided for women in tech.

"Not only do we risk losing women currently in the workforce, but without examples of successful women at the leadership levels of technology, it becomes harder to bring in new, aspiring female talent," Daly said.

Given technology's impact on the world, it is imperative that those working in the industry are diverse and representative of all, she added.

"That's why the growing gender gap is such an important issue and why we all need to do our part to close it," she said.

The Importance of Professional Development for Women in IT

Daly explained that when women are already outnumbered by men on their teams at significant ratios, opportunities for career growth can become scarce.

"That's why growth and professional development, including training, mentorship, and coaching, play such a critical role in addressing the gender gap in tech," she said. "Without opportunities to build their skill sets and move into new technical and leadership roles, women will continue to face barriers while working in tech, thus exacerbating the gender gap."

Related:Why Young Talent Is Adopting Tech as a New Career Option

Fortunately, access to professional development and training is increasing among women in IT, up from 42% in 2021 to 61% in 2023.

This provides an opportunity to gain not only sought-after technical skills, but also power skills like communication, collaboration, and decision-making that will help women develop as leaders, according to Daly.

How Important Is Mentoring to Women in IT?

"In addition to training opportunities, women in IT should seek out mentors and coaches to help guide them throughout their career journeys," Daly said.

The survey found that 82% of women in tech say coaching, mentorship, and career counseling are extremely or very important to them, yet only 34% access this through their organizations.

"There is a huge opportunity for organizations to formalize these programs and make a meaningful impact for women on their tech teams," Daly said. "There are also many external networking opportunities that women should look to take advantage of."

Despite these obstacles, women in tech still have a strong commitment to skill building, which is mutually beneficial for organizations and employees' futures, she noted.

"Women are taking advantage of learning new skills by earning valuable certifications in leadership and management, project management, agile and scrum, and much more," she said.

They're also showing a strong interest in priority tech areas such as analytics, AI and machine learning, and cybersecurity, and are using these skills to take on more responsibility, land new jobs, and earn promotions.

"The question is where they are going to apply these in-demand skills," Daly said. "Organizations should be asking themselves, 'How can we retain and elevate these individuals so they don't leave for the competition?'"

About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITProToday and covers various IT trends and topics across wide variety of industries. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he is also a documentary filmmaker specializing in architecture and urban planning. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany.

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