Cisco employs fewer women than IT industry average

Networking giant is working to turn things around

Cisco has admitted to employing far fewer women than the IT industry average, a trend that the networking company is looking to reverse.

"The industry average [of women working in IT companies] is [about] 23 percent. At Cisco, it is much lower," Tim Skinner, director of UK enterprise, revealed at the Cisco everywoman In Technology Awards ceremony last week.

Laura Earle, executive communications manager of services EMEAR at Cisco was celebrated as a rising star at the ceremony this year. In 2011, two women at Cisco were recognised: Bernadette Wightman, MD of partner organisation at Cisco UK and Ireland, and Nikki Walker, senior director of inclusion, diversity and sustainability for Cisco Systems, who won business leader of the year and inspiration of the year awards, respectively.

"Winning last year raised the profile of diversity at the company," said Skinner, adding that this led the company to sponsor this year's awards.

According to the latest data from sector skills council e-skills UK, women make up just 18 percent of IT and telecoms workers in the UK in 2010, and just 25 percent of people working in an IT firm were female.

One way in which Cisco is hoping to encourage more women into the industry is by revising the wording of its technical job adverts.

For example, when it recently advertised for a systems engineering role for its apprenticeship scheme, Cisco found that all the applicants at interview were male.

It therefore decided to change the wording of the advert to provide more details about what the job entailed, which has helped increase the number of female applicants.

"Now candidates are 60 percent female, by [Cisco] being more open about the role," Skinner said.

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