In a bid to boost the number of women entering technology industries the Ministry for Women has released a guide for education providers on attracting and retaining women and girls in tech education.
The guide says digital technology is the fastest growing industry in New Zealand, but women — 51 percent of the population — make up only 23 percent of employees in the sector.
Furthermore, it says, “The business case for greater gender balance is strong. Tech firms that are gender balanced are up to 40 percent more profitable … [and] including women in product development and decision-making ensures a broader understanding of the customer’s needs and better targeted tech products.”
NZTech’s national director of government relations, Andrea Hancox, said the problem of attracting and retaining women in tech was not unique to New Zealand, and those women that did undertake tech education faced discrimination.
"Feedback from a lot of young women I have spoken to say there are often only a few other females in their tech class. They are often assigned the less technical tasks by their male students making them feel less valued.”
She added: "We need to look at parents, teachers, principals, career guidance counsellors and caregivers [and at] what advice are they giving young women today on their career choices when they leave school. What do they know about the technology sector and why it’s so important to encourage students to consider a career in tech.”
NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said: "The first challenge is to inspire and excite more students, parents, teachers and principals about digital technology and the opportunities it creates for fulfilling careers.”