The Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) held a press conference in Karachi today, to launch “Women in IT” – an exclusive research report published by P@SHA on working women in the Pakistan IT industry.
Present at the event, representing P@SHA, were Nadeem Elahi (Chairman) Jehan Ara (President) and Nausheen Ishtiaq (Research Associate).
Jehan Ara encapsulated the motivation behind the initiative saying, “The participation of women in the workforce has been shown to have positive effects on a nation’s economy. P@SHA, as the IT industry representative organization in Pakistan, undertook this research to understand the real on-ground realities of women working in technology here.”
“We aimed to not only get real facts and figures on women’s participation in IT but also aimed to explore the extent to which women are enabled and equipped to succeed in IT. We explored key reasons which may also prevent new entries into the IT field, as well as factors affecting women’s growth. We hope that this report can be a first step towards gaining visibility for the critical roles that women play in this otherwise male-dominated industry,” she added. “This is odd,” she said “because IT is a field that has opened up so many opportunities for women.”
The research is based on responses from 50 companies and 125 individuals – it targeted IT companies as well as large IT departments within non-IT companies.
It was found that women account for 14% of the IT workforce, of which 37% are at the mid-career level while 13% are in Senior Management positions.
The data also pointed towards the presence of the infamous glass ceiling. Despite years of experience a large proportion of the women has been unable to move beyond mid-level positions.
Another observation was the significantly low number of women who hold more than seven years of work experience under their belt. This stunted retention can be attributed to the ‘leaky pipeline effect’, whereby life events force women’s careers to often take a back seat.
In the context of HR policies and practices, a majority of women were satisfied with their work environment. While paid maternity leave, flexible hours and emergency leave were the most commonly offered benefits – there were still some companies who failed to incorporate paid maternity leave (a basic HR benefit worldwide) in their package.
The participants complained about long hours and recommended flexible and shorter work timings, transportation and day care facilities.
One gap identified was the lack of training and mentoring programs. Most of the polled companies did not extend such opportunities to female employees, despite their proven effectiveness in enhancing the abilities of employees.
Women reported that they did not feel undervalued in comparison to male counterparts but wished to see a reduction in gender stereotyping of IT roles.
Nadeem Elahi talked about the growth of the Pakistan IT industry in the face of domestic and international challenges.
The country’s IT industry is generating an estimated $2.8 billion in revenue (excluding the retail segment), making up 1.6% of the GDP. He said that buoyed by improved policies and support, this figure could easily be pushed to $10 billion mark.
P@SHA is the sole trade body representing Pakistan’s IT industry today with over 400 member companies. The members themselves govern the body through an elected body known as the Central Executive Committee (CEC).
For more details, please contact:
Jehan Ara, President, Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA)