ISACA, a global nonprofit organization focused on the development, adoption and use of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information systems, recently released “Tech Workforce 2020: The Age and Gender Perception Gap.”
Based on a survey of 3,587 ISACA members in 126 countries, this report examines the work experiences and perceptions of workers in tech fields, on everything from job satisfaction and training to gender- and age-based perceptions.
One of the report’s key findings is that tech workers are always on the lookout for better career opportunities.
Seventy percent of respondents said they would consider new jobs in the next two years, and 39 percent of those under 30 said they planned to change jobs within that same time frame.
“A big proportion of the workforce can be considered ‘in play,'” the report says, meaning it’s more important than ever for tech firms to provide the environments and opportunities their employees want and need.
Contributing to this job-hopping are burnout and stress, with 64 percent of respondents reporting those difficulties. Stress hits women somewhat harder than men, the survey found, with 67 percent of women reporting it compared to 62 percent of men.
The survey also probed the differing experiences and perceptions of men and women in tech.
A majority of women (56 percent) believed that a lack of female role models was a primary reason for the underrepresentation of women in tech fields, for instance, whereas a much smaller segment (34 percent) of men thought that was the case.
More women than men also reported feeling underpaid, working harder, and facing unequal growth opportunities.
To get some perspective on the report, TechNewsWorld spoke with Gabriela Reynaga, who cofounded and serves as a consultant for Holistics GRC and also serves on ISACA’s board of directors. Her educational background is in accounting, and she’s worked both in auditing finances and internal control systems.
TechNewsWorld: Can you tell us a little bit about Holistics GRC?
Gabriela Reynaga: There’s a gap in communication between IT and the C-suite and executive teams, and I started thinking that we need to try to translate between one side and the other. We try to dig into what’s happening on both the IT and business sides. We work with all industries and sectors, and on our team, we have people from accounting, administration, IT, and other fields. We try to use a holistic approach.
What role do you play at ISACA?
Reynaga: In ISACA, I’m on the board of directors, and I’m also chair of the audit committee. At the local level, I started with the organization before the chapter was created in 2003. My need for information was so huge — and I immediately tried to find information about it. In my hometown, we didn’t have an ISACA chapter, so I got involved in creating the chapter.
Why was the ISACA report conducted?
Reynaga: It’s something we need to consider — challenges, preferences, and so on. It’s important to understand the IT professional population around the globe. IT is not just about computers — it’s also about digital transformation, machine learning, and a lot of other things. This report helps us to understand the desires and experiences of the IT population.
What would you say some of the key takeaways of the report are?
Reynaga: The perceptions of those who are making decisions versus those who are living the experience are, in some cases, quite different.
One major issue is recruiting and retention. It’s not as simple as saying, “We need an IT person.” One of the challenges is to know what they really need. What’s the position, the requirements, and the profile? We need to step back and ask, what do I really need?
The biggest problem for many organizations going into digital transformation is that we need new systems, and we need someone to administer and manage those systems. But what systems do we need, and what kind of management?
Digital transformation has been so complex. Everybody talks about it, but not everybody understands what’s really happening and what the real challenges are. The ones who make the decisions don’t understand what they really want.
The other thing that’s mentioned is compensation. You need to be reviewing the compensation plan to make sure to retain employees and be competitive. Nowadays, if a professional finds a better job — maybe not with a significant increase in compensation, but with other opportunities for training — they’re going to move.
The report also looks at age. We see a lot of young professionals in IT, but most of them are more focused on developing apps or creating software, and they don’t know how to manage the IT department. Most of the time, they’re very techy, but they’re not aware of all of the needs of the enterprise. There’s a gap. They don’t understand how systems and cybersecurity affect the business.
What are some of the report’s most important findings regarding gender?
Reynaga: Most women feel underpaid in relation to their coworkers, and women also feel underrepresented. There’s a lack of female role models, and we don’t have enough role models for leadership.
Women often have a gap in their careers — maybe while they’re raising kids — and after that, they go back to work. But they have to come with a plan, and the company needs to reincorporate women into work again after a period of absence.
Not all women have a pause because of kids, but if they have that pause, they come back with better abilities. They’re more organized, and we’re not taking advantage of their capabilities when they return to the workforce — not just in IT, but in all areas. We need to create the right environment, including programs to help them to start again in the workforce.
What can be done to bridge the gender perception gap in tech?
Reynaga: Set clear goals and objectives about what companies and IT departments are doing in order to attend to these problems. We need to use the same concepts that are generally accepted by both women and men. Otherwise, there are disagreements. We need to be able to see the same situation.
There’s a lack of communication, and there is a misperception about what it means to support women from men’s versus women’s perspectives. There needs to be a real and objective perception.
Will this report change the tech workforce?
Reynaga: Maybe not immediately, but a lot of companies are doing the things that need to be done. They’re retaining more women, bringing in more women, and having more women in positions traditionally held by men.
Why do you think it’s important to look at perceptions?
Reynaga: Perceptions are reality. People are dealing with machines, but they’re also dealing with feelings. If they don’t feel valuable to an organization or are not receiving the right compensation or training, it’s affecting them, and they’ll move to another company. There’s such a thing as emotional salary. If another organization treats you better, you’ll move.