The Ladies in RED: Why female representation in IT matters


When it comes to picturing your typical tech professional, there’s often a perception that IT = male. But why do we inherently think that? Although it’s partially based on gendered role stereotypes, unfortunately, today this impression is still largely true for the global industry, with women being largely underrepresented throughout the tech sector. Not only that, it’s been found that women are far more likely to leave the industry within a year compared to their male counterparts.

Although Centrered may only be a small drop within the vast and diverse ocean that is the global tech sector, we hope to have a rippling effect influencing the industry around us when it comes to equal gender representation and support within IT.

What it looks like to be an ‘IT girl’ in a ‘boy’s world’

While the IT industry has historically been denoted as a ‘boy’s world,’ still being largely dominated by men on a worldly scale, it appears that things may be changing for the better a little closer to home. WGEA’s most recent Gender Equality Scorecard suggests that the gender gap for people working within Information Technology and Science roles has steadily increased over the past ten years, with the average amount of women working within the industry now sitting more evenly at 40.9%.

Why is this change only starting to occur now, you ask? Unfortunately in the past and in some cases around the world today, the IT industry has had a bad wrap within the realm of gender-inclusive working culture, and perhaps for good reason. Just last year, The Guardian reported that 73% of people still believed the tech industry was “sexist” and 52% of those interviewed said they were aware of women being paid less than men for doing the same job. Although the overall hope is that these perceived tendencies are on a downward trend in our immediate industry environment, with Australian based statistics showing a slow yet steady increase in women being promoted into IT management roles; while relevant gender pay gaps have partially decreased within recent years. These perceptions and figures are nonetheless disparaging, both for women hoping to enter the industry and for the industry itself.

Although we of course equally love our Centrered boys, gender diversity has been proven to benefit businesses. Research shows that businesses with a woman on the executive panel are more likely to have higher valuation at both first and last funding. It’s also been found that gender-diverse R&D teams lead to greater workplace creativity, as well as better decision making and reciprocal outcomes.

In the words of Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg “No industry or country can reach its full potential until women reach their full potential. This is especially true of science and technology, where women with a surplus of talent still face a deficit of opportunity.” It seems like having a few strong women in positions of power is certainly a positive thing for IT management teams… After all, you can’t spell ‘feminist’ without an ‘I’ and a ‘T’!

Being at the “Centrered” of gender diversity in IT

As you might guess, we pride ourselves on having a gender-equal workplace. It wasn’t always that way though, when Centrered first opened its doors it was solely male-dominated. In 2019 the outlook is quite different, with six women contributing to the team in both junior, senior and management roles.

For one of Centrered’s key young and upcoming female professionals – Kat Marinceska, positive change within the tech industry in terms of equal gender acceptance is clear,

“The only thing that I still sometimes come across are clients that are surprised by the fact that we have so many young women and girls working within IT, they sometimes seem to think it’s still weird at first glance. In the working community and IT environment that I’m in at the moment, I don’t really think about whether the industry is male or female ‘lead’ too much. Especially at Centrered, I’ve never had any red flags or problems come to mind in terms of being included as an equal team member here.

Although this is a positive outcome and benchmark for Centrered and the local tech industry alike, it perhaps further indicates why it’s so important to have strong representation of all diverse workers throughout the sector.

I think it’s important to have a representation of both sexes, although I think some people may still see it as a typically male-dominated industry…  From that perspective, I think it’s important to have regular and strong female representation, to show the rest of the world that women can, of course, do tech work just as well. Sometimes I think it’s important to open everyone’s eyes up that may still be half-shut to say “hey you can do this as well, no matter who you are”. It’s not limited to a sex or where you come from. You can do anything you want to do no matter your perceived identity or background, not just what the world might stereotypically think you should be.

For Katerina, although Centrered is already at the helm of the gender diversity ship, she expects that the broader industry will only continue to move forward within this realm.

I think it will definitely develop and continue to become more even in terms of gender representation. It would be nice to see a half-half break down of men and women, I know it can never be exactly 50% – but I guess the more that happens and becomes a norm, the stereotypes might dissipate a bit more once that becomes a more frequently viewed statistic.

The importance of female role models

Another key explanation for why there may be less of a female presence in the IT industry is what’s called ‘pinkification’ of girls at an early age. You know that age “old, pink is a girl colour, blue is a boy colour” and “nursing is a girl job, computers are a boy job” shtick? Toys, clothes and job possibilities are still largely marketed towards either gender, despite recent developments in breaking this historic trend.
Part of breaking this trend and by reinforcing that IT is a viable career path for everyone, is by showcasing both male and female role models within industry and teaching our kids of today that “if they can do it, why not you?” Some tech-women to give praise to around the world in this instance include:

  • Ginni Rommety, CEO of IBM. In the USA.
  • Elaine Coughlain, Co-founder and partner of Atlantic Bridge Capital. In Ireland.
  • Anna Christina Ramos Saicali, CEO of B2W. In Brazil.
  • Cher Wang, Co-founder and Chair of HTC. In Taiwan.

A little closer to home, we have a range of clever women working within our office from our featured technician Kat, to our General Manager and Director Adele Pickering and Operations Manager, Laura Cunningham making their mark as part of our Leadership team. While we can’t name all of our wonderful ‘Ladies in RED’, each of them plays a significant role in setting a new standard and benchmark for young women aspiring to enter the IT industry. In Kat’s own fitting words,

It’s just nice to show people you can absolutely work in tech if you want to… All it takes is to have the desire to do it and be excited about it, if you showcase this through role models and passionate real life people – it doesn’t matter what the industry is or historically says, it’s just a matter of making it a norm in every people’s minds today and into the future.