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Why women won't apply for IT jobs

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Women won't apply for IT jobs unless they are certain they meet every single criterion for the gig, according to John Ridge, Executive Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation Trust Fund (ACSF).

Ridge and the ACSF run a national Work Integrated Learning scholarship scheme for IT workers in Australia and have, over the scheme's ten years of operations, placed 3,850 workers in one-year gigs designed to bridge between the worlds of university and work. The scholarships are designed to make it cheaper and easier for employers to hire entry-level staff, while giving graduates the chance to learn practical skills in the workplace and, often, to upgrade their university-taught technical knowledge to modern skills real businesses actually use.

The scholarship scheme struggles to attract women, largely due to pitifully low enrolment rates in Australian universities. Ridge also mentioned horrifying drop-out rates for women in IT courses, citing research conducted by the University of Wollongong that he said found 72.9% of women are unhappy with the IT courses they pursue.

The few women that do pursue a career in IT, he said, are then reluctant to seek opportunities like ACSF scholarships because they feel it is important to meet every single criterion an employer desires. Men, by contrast, happily apply with only half the skills an employer lists as desirable.

“Industry wants women,” Ridge said. “But women talk themselves out of applying for jobs”. ®

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