Women to make big mark in the IT sector

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New Delhi, Jun 8: Women are poised to make a big mark in the IT sector with forecasts projecting this labour force to grow up by 2010 from 30 per cent to 45 per cent of all workers.

The city-based Institute of Social Studies Trust has found out in a survey that companies have adapted themselves to cater to the needs of women workers. As many as 90 per cent of the companies surveyed offered flexible hours with 59 per cent offering 'work from home' options. It, however, brings out the stark reality that women are concentrated on the low skilled end of the spectrum. Many of them are in the jobs requiring communication skills, such as call centres, public relations jobs and promotional activities.

The following is a break up of the division of work between men and women in various segments of the IT sector, which brings out the skewed nature of gender deployment; call service 40 per cent (male), 60 per cent (female); programmer-software engineers 54 per cent (male) and 45 per cent (female), consultants 75 per cent (male), 25 per cent (female), project manager 94.4 per cent (male) and 5.56 per cent (female).

The Institute says on the basis of field evidence that entry at the low end of the segment is relatively easy. However, mobility at work requires computing skills and knowledge of content.

What are the persisting barriers for a woman to take to the IT sector, both as consumer and workforce? First and foremost is access to internet technologies-- out of 1.4 million Internet connections, 1.3 million are concentrated in just five states. These are Karanataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Delhi. Even in these States, the IT connections are restricted to urban areas and exclude rural and semi-urban areas. The other problems related to the spread of IT are the language of Internet, availability of credit or finance and lack of technical business skills.

Experts at a recent ILO seminar, which discussed the findings of the study, were of the view that appropriate policies need to be devised, keeping in view the overall framework, and to make IT women compatible and friendly. The sector is expected to experience continued high rates of growth, both on account of high domestic and external demand.

The splendid growth would also be on account of rapid development of business process outsourcing (BPO), such as medical transcription, legal processes and emergence of call centre activities.

The experts called for mapping IT on other growing sectors and highlighted that women participation would be mediated by availability of child and elderly care support.


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