A Profession in Development

Anne Leeming


The penetration of information technology has reached every corner of most working lives. A world without IT is inconceivable. It is a good time, therefore, to examine the nature of employment in the industry. Its character has been formed by a history of rapid technical change and more recently, global changes in the nature of business. Interpersonal and managerial competence and the gender of its employees are top of its agenda for development. A dominant characteristic of the IT community is its maleness. This accords with the picture of women’s employment painted at the UN conference on the Status and Employment of Women held in Beijing in September 1995. The recommendations of the conference’s final document, the Global Platform for Action, are designed to be the foundation of government policies around the world. As these new policies are expected to affect the way the business community regards its staff the implication is that the IT community needs to rethink how it might attract more women to work as IT professionals and to rise to the top of their organisations. This paper describes the current role of women in the IT industry. It reviews the recommendations of the Beijing conference and discusses their impact on the IT community.