Information technology industry looking at creative ways to attract women into considering a career
© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Egmont MP speaks during a news conference in Charlottetown Thursday where she announced funding for a project by the Innovation and Technology Association of Prince Edward Island.
A shortage of women in information technology in P.E.I. has led the industry to look at creative new ways to attract women to consider a career in IT.
“For some reason, it’s just always been kind of a guy thing,” says Margaret Gallant, HR co-ordinator for the Innovation and Technology Association of P.E.I. (ITAP).
Currently, only 25 per cent of the 2,400 total Islanders employed in the IT sector are female.
Daniel Lazaratos, president of ITAP, said the industry must do more to attract women because there are vacancies IT companies in P.E.I. are finding difficult to fill.
“At our IT job fair that we run in March there are typically 100-plus open positions for hiring and most of them go unfilled because there is a gap in the folks that come in looking for jobs versus the criteria that we’re looking for. It’s an issue.”
That’s why ITAP is launching a new project to prepare women for leadership roles in the technology sector. The 36-month project aims to increase recruitment, retention and advancement of women in Prince Edward Island’s IT sector.
It will create a women information technology leaders group to support women’s professional development. Human resource practices will be addressed through an industry-driven Women in IT Roundtable which will document and share best practices with technology employers.
“To address this (shortage) as a sector, we need to go back to basics, we need to reach out to young people at very early stages making technology available, interesting and attractive,” Lazaratos said.
Gallant said the mention of IT usually brings to mind the video gaming industry, but there are many other career paths and opportunities.
“People think if you can’t draw and you can’t game, there’s no place for me. When in reality there are lots of places,” she said.
“It’s just about building awareness of what’s available because there are so many opportunities.”
ITAP is receiving $276,865 from the federal government for this initiative to attract more women into technology fields in P.E.I.
“Women in P.E.I. and across Canada have the knowledge, expertise and talent to excel in every sector,” said Egmont MP Gail Shea during a recent funding announcement for the initiative.
“This project will address the gender gap in the technology sector where skilled workers are very much in demand and strengthen opportunities for women to advance.”