Attracting women to the ICT sector

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While the chronic skills shortage in New Zealand’s ICT sector persists, it’s essential that businesses are able to attract and retain good employees.

This should mean that the ICT businesses try to foster conditions that are conducive to women in order to tap into the entire talent pool, but this is not the case according to one commentator. “Paradoxically, the few women that the NZ ICT industry has managed to attract and retain have negative stories of sexism and sometimes difficult working conditions,” Vikram Kumar, CEO of Mega,  wrote in NBR.

One company that has attempted to improve the situation in Australia is ThoughtWorks. Since 2011 ThoughtWorks has been working to include more women in the business, and it has met with results. The percentage of women employed in the Australian professional services arm has almost doubled from 19 to 34%, managing director Lindy Stephens wrote in Women’s Agenda.

“I truly believe that whether your business is just starting out or looking to grow, there are some important strategies you can employ to include quality female professionals in your workplace,” Stephens wrote.

In her opinion piece, Stephens outlined two main ideas regarding attracting and retaining women:

  1. Quotas for graduates: ThoughtWorks implemented a strategy to hire 50/50 female and male graduates in 2011, and in fact they have hired 17 female graduates compared with 15 male ones since then. At first Stephens admits having been reluctant to implement this because she didn’t want female graduates to feel as though they had been hired simply because of their gender, but she has since changed her mind. “The change meant not only did we get more female applicants, but I believe that our recruiting team and interviewers also started to overcome some unconscious biases that were preventing them from getting more women on board,” Stephens wrote.


  1. Supporting parents: For Stephens, the ICT industry’s focus on young workers means that businesses in the sector do not focus on accommodating workers when they have families. More attention needs to be spent on workers as they progress through life in order to keep them at work. “Making sure you accommodate these desires is essential if you want to retain quality employees. A supportive parental leave policy is a good start,” Stephens wrote. She also thinks flexible working is a good way to accommodate people’s family life.



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