CLOSE to 70 per cent of those working in the IT industry are male, while the number of females in executive roles is as low as 14 per cent, according to a new report released by Davidson Technology.

The Australian owned recruitment consulting firm teamed up with LinkedIn to uncover the rates of participation in the IT industry and representation of women in key job types.

Looking at the IT industry as a whole, 31 per cent of those working in the area were women with females more prominent in program manager and director roles, designer roles and business analyst roles.

Davidson Technology CEO Brendan Kavenagh says the report stemmed from discussing gender targets with clients.

He says to determine realistic targets, businesses need to be informed.

"In a time of keen focus on the number of females represented in all business sectors, the IT sector is one of the poorest performers when it comes to the gender diversity challenges it faces," says Kavenagh.

"Our findings suggest that it is unrealistic for businesses to aim for 50/50 gender balance across all job types, when the pool of female talent averages around 30 per cent."

Meanwhile, Kaisu Christie - head of Q-Digital at Bank of Queensland (pictured), says without setting big goals, change in the industry will not happen.

Bank of Queensland has a 50/50 diversity goal that it hopes to achieve by 2020 across the organisation in regards to senior roles, which includes the IT department.

"Board and executives need to commit to developing leadership skills in the sector, cultural change through procedures and policies and offer practical support to execute the change," says Christie.  "Then and only then, with relentless follow up, will changes occur."

However, Chrisite notes that women are not always attracted to the IT industry, making it harder for employers to achieve gender diversity in their organisation.

"As an industry, we have a bit of a brand problem," says Christie.

"IT is still tech first, and solution, outcome, benefits, are far behind as secondary as our key communication points.

"We need to change this as females tend to be purpose-led and would probably be attracted to this aspect of what IT really is about. To me IT is about enabling so many good things, and today a lot of companies are actually IT companies without which they can't survive and this is just going to expand."

Kavenagh says now that the information is at hand, the next step is to work with organisations to determine how best to attract female IT workers.

"When I meet with clients the first thing they ask me is 'what can we do to attract more females," he says.

"Underrepresentation has always been an issue for our industry and it is an issue that is not going away and one that continues to stay on the agenda.

"Attraction strategies need to be well thought out and planned. Similarly, retention strategies are equally as important.

"This report will help us have better conversations with organisations about how to attract candidates and to assist them to set realistic gender targets based on the data available."

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