Women Working in the IT Industry: Challenges for the New Millennium

Despite increased female participation in the workforce, including some non traditional areas such as law and medicine, female participation in the Information Technology (IT) industry is declining. A longitudinal study (WinIT) commenced in 1995 has explored Australian student’s and working women’s perceptions and experiences, and the factors which have influenced them to enter and persist in the IT field. This paper reviews recent research and describes the latest results from the authors' study of professional women in the Australian IT industry, focusing on the contradictions in the way that women represent their experiences. These contradictions indicate that polarised views of gender in the IT workforce are being undermined, but also that IT personnel have difficulty reconciling their personal and work lives and coping with the rapid rate of change in the industry. The implications for human resources management in the volatile IT industry as well as some possible solutions to the problem are also discussed.