Reseller News recently ran a Quick Poll on whether the New Zealand channel industry was sufficiently diverse. It’s not an easy question to answer, because opinions vary widely over what constitutes a sufficient level of representation of minority groups.
As those who work in the IT game know, it is dominated by European (Pakeha) males who are middle aged or older.
In our poll, by far the majority (61 percent) of voters believed the industry could have a positive image without balanced proportions of young/old, male/female staff, and a mix ethnicities.
It’s fair to zero in on the representation of women, given IT is one of the industries where they are a definite minority, even though in recent years they have increasingly occupied technical and senior roles.
The apparent demise of Women in Technology (which former general manager Cheryl Horo told Reseller News had ceased activity last year) and seeming lack of an organisation with similar goals and local reach, is a blow to the cause of getting greater female representation.
While it remains a challenge to recruit from among this audience due to the perception of tech as a domain for geeky males, what should the focus be for women already in the IT industry?
An overarching theme in the responses to our Quick Poll was that industry members appreciate colleagues who can perform highly, regardless of their gender, age or ethnicity.
With that in mind, any pan-industry group would do well to focus on skills transfer and knowledge building, rather than solely providing a support forum.
Girl Geeks, another local group focused on events for women, says it will cater for women in more technically-oriented roles.
Technical updates are useful to the entire industry, but skills aren’t limited to this domain. Business strategy and leadership, marketing, sales, management and the sales/technical divide are all areas where women should upskill. This has been done equally successfully through the sharing of stories from senior IT and business women, not just in technical areas.
Each demographic group, women included, has nuances pertaining to the way they learn and the challenges they face, and these must be addressed.
But the over-riding emphasis should still be on development of standards and the contribution of the sector to the nation.