First IT job is the hardest for women, says study

The first hurdle is the hardest for women trying to get employment in the IT sector, according to a study by the Training Camp.

Two-thirds of the 100 female IT workers surveyed said getting a first break in the industry is more difficult than climbing up the career ladder.

Over half said they felt they could progress along their career path into senior positions more quickly in IT than in other industries.

"Once I was in, it was easier to move up the ladder," said Claire Taylor, a systems administrator at APT Solutions. "Once I could prove I had the skills and got in, I was able to move up."

Indeed, women are moving up in the IT sector. Nominet's chief executive Lesley Cowley was just awarded the First Woman of Technology by CBI and Real Business, beating out female competitors from BT, 82 Ask, OnRelay and Sun Microsystems.

But Rob Chapman, chief executive of the Training Camp, said not enough women consider IT as a career in the first place, and if they do, face disadvantages because of male dominance of the field.

"It's a great missed opportunity, that the IT industry has in how it presents it self," said Chapman. "It seems to go out of the way to be unattractive to women."

To overcome this - and help alleviate skills shortages - the IT industry needs to better market itself to women as a creative sector.

"The perceived geeky atmosphere is a negative impression to create," Chapman said. "I started as a programmer, and I felt it was an incredible creative process."

"That gets completely missed," he continued. "The reality is, application development has human interaction and you get to make something. It's a creative process."