The technology industry is a diverse field that offers those working within it opportunities to be creative, to be innovative and to do some truly unique work. But there's one well-documented issue -- technology remains a male-dominated field.
This isn't just an issue south of the border. According to a labour market report from The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), women hold just one-quarter of the information and communications technology jobs in Canada, despite women making up 47 per cent of the overall Canadian workforce.
Technology continues to be an industry with a demonstrated need for skilled professionals in many markets across the country.
Many women are also looking for roles with companies that value inclusivity. For instance, a study from PwC found that 86 per cent of female millennials consider an employer's policy on diversity and equality to be important when deciding whether to work for an employer. But the technology sector has its share of powerful women. A separate study from PwC and Strategy& found that from 2004 to 2013, the IT industry had the highest composition of female CEOs.
For young women who might be deciding on a potential career path, or women who might be looking to make a switch to something new and who are not shrinking violets, now is a great time to consider a career in technology. Here are some reasons to think about making a move into this domain.
High demand in the field
Technology continues to be an industry with a demonstrated need for skilled professionals in many markets across the country. In the first quarter of 2016, the sector that posted the most job ads on Monster.ca was IT/Software Development. This has been a consistent trend on our site for many quarters.
This also doesn't appear to be a trend that will dissipate anytime soon -- in fact, there appears to be a widening skills shortage in the field. The same labour market report from the ICTC predicts that there will be an IT talent shortage of more than 182,000 workers in Canada by 2019.
As the industry is poised to have an ongoing need for specialists, women who are intrigued by a career in technology may want to consider gaining the skills to enter the profession in the near future.
Immense potential to learn and grow
The technology field is by no means static. There are a myriad of positions one can consider, from web developer, to IT manager, to systems analyst. And with new technologies hitting the market, new roles are being created and evolving to suit the industry. Because of this, a career path in technology can take you down many roads -- some that may not even be defined yet.
It's also a sector within which you can continuously grow. There are often opportunities to broaden your expertise by picking up new skills, whether it is learning a new coding language or mastering different software. Some professionals may opt to teach themselves, but there are formal and informal meet-ups and sessions that provide the chance to enhance your skill set.
Women who are looking for a career in which they can be challenged by diverse opportunities, or those who are motivated by varied learning experiences, may find that entering the technology industry will help to fulfill that need.
Making a difference
Along with the growth potential the industry brings is the chance to be involved in something that has a positive impact on the life of others.
The gender imbalance in the technology industry will not go away overnight, but that shouldn't be a reason for women to write off a career in the field.
There are many possible tech-related roles to consider, but think about this: depending on where you land, you could be involved in developing software that enables doctors to more effectively manage patient care. You may contribute to new car technology that reduces the likelihood of a collision, or new educational tools that help students to learn more effectively. There are vast possibilities, but at the end of the day, the work you do could affect change, and that's an exciting prospect.
Companies need to play a part, too
With such a significant imbalance in terms of gender representation in the Canadian technology industry, it may seem a daunting career path to pursue. It's important for companies in the field to break down any barriers that may inadvertently steer women away.
Companies may want to consider taking a step back, examining and standardizing their hiring practices to ensure a level playing field for all applicants, regardless of gender. Another aspect to consider is revamping the workplace to ensure it's friendly for employees with families or establishing a culture that is inclusive.
The gender imbalance in the technology industry will not go away overnight, but that shouldn't be a reason for women to write off a career in the field. With so many varied opportunities awaiting them, along with the potential to do innovative, interesting work, it's a great time to make the leap. And if more women take the plunge, it may encourage others to join.
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