Dr Amanda Lynn, who holds a PhD in Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says that both sexism and ageism are having a huge impact on IT professionals.
A preliminary study by Lynn found that only about a quarter of the IT workforce is female, despite doing the same work as their male peers and offering the same value.
The research also showed that the number of people working in IT falls sharply when they reach 55 years of age and the few women who do remain are then paid less than their male counterparts.
“We need to know who is being excluded from the industry, who leaves early and why, and why pay parity is lost,” said Lynn. “Sexism doesn’t explain everything, ageism must also be explored.”
Completed this week, the study makes two recommendations – firstly, that a substantive investigation of ageism, sexism and their combined effects on both men and women in the IT industry be undertaken as soon as possible.
Secondly, that coherent policy, strategy and interventions be put in place to target equity of participation in the industry as well as pay parity for all participants across their life span.
“There are women in every ethnic and socio-economic group, and every person ages. New Zealanders can expect to live 87 years. If they are ejected at 55 from the high wage economy, or underpaid despite being as productive as everyone else, more than 30 years of dependency on the public purse could ensue,” warned Lynn.
“Yet if everyone has equal chance to participate, and equal reward, no one will lose. International studies show that the whole economy will grow as equity grows.”
The study, which relied on data from Statistics New Zealand’s 2017 Household Labour Force Survey, follows more substantive analyses of New Zealand’s digital economy undertaken by Lynn last year.
In the earlier study, it was found that New Zealand must address equity between itself and other nations, and within New Zealand, to ensure fair access to the benefits of the digital economy for all.
An experienced leadership and development specialist has called for an urgent investigation into the IT sector, saying discrimination remains rife within the industry.