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Men are still grossly over-represented in the IT sector, occupying eight of every ten UK positions. Pay rates are skewed too, with men in IT earning significantly more than their female counterparts.

The picture is not particularly surprising: women in IT are more likely to be in co-ordinating or administrative roles - while men occupy the management and leadership positions - according to recruitment firm Parity, which conducted a survey of 200 IT project management staff.

This imbalance shows up very clearly in the difference in average pay packets. Male IT project management staff cost an average of £71.90 per hour, while women cost £37.31.

Much of the differential is to do with the different kind of work being done, but women are also paid less when like-for-like jobs are compared, Parity says.

Stewart Coia, director of HCM Practice at Parity, says that women hve the skills to do well in IT, and they are not deliberately shunning positions of responsibility. But he points to a mismatch between work and lifestyle, with IT consultants often working extraordinarily long hours, which makes it impossible for many women to combine work and family life.

"Creating a culture that encourages flexible working is crucial to attracting and retaining talent in the industry. Employees are looking to decrease stress in their life whilst taking greater control of their career and the IT sector must ensure that these needs are met, before good resources are lost," he said. ®

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