At a quarter of the total workforce, the number of women in the ICT industry hasn't changed for 10 years, and many believe that – as more than 100,000 jobs are set to be created in Canada in the next five years – it is time to amend that inequality.
However, proponents could be facing an uphill battle. As a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada and CareerMash shows, the high-tech industry is considered by many to be difficult, complex and not fun, writes Alix Edmiston at the Financial Post.
Susan Carreon, director of hardware engineering for the Canadian research and development arm of one of the United States' largest banks, said:
"Today's misconceptions about IT are so unfortunate. They hark back to a different time.
"I wish more young girls would look beyond the geeky label that often gets applied to the sector. It's a fascinating industry where you can make such a difference and even change the world. The industry needs young women who are creative, problem solvers and are naturally curious. IT professionals can now be found in almost every industry doing fascinating work whether it's medicine, publishing, entertainment, etc."
David Ticoll, executive director of CareerMash, one of the companies that published the survey, said:
"To attract more women and address our labour gap, we have to get young girls interested in ICT — the earlier the better.
"Medicine and law provide great examples. Young women have moved into these fields in the past decade. Now we see an almost equal split between men and women. We hope to replicate this success by changing perceptions at an early age."
To challenge the misconception that the field is confusing and difficult to master, Careermash looked to develop an easy to read model with four categories that links corresponding skills, aptitudes and interests.
"Many young people will be surprised that not all tech jobs require math, not all require a university education, just passion and a desire to contribute."