Gender equality is still a big issue for the Kiwi tech sector despite a push to get more female workers into the booming industry.

Just one quarter of the global tech workforce are women, and that proportion is declining, as outlined in a MYOB report released today exploring how New Zealand's tech sector can improve gender equality.

Women made up 23 per cent of the tech sector in the 2013 census, down 1 per cent from 2006.

In 2016, New Zealand's tech sector generated 8 per cent of GDP, produced 9 per cent of exports and employed more than 100,000 people.


MYOB general manager Carolyn Luey said education was vital to ensure more women get into the industry.

"Only 3 per cent of 15-year-old females are thinking about a career in the tech sector, and so education should really start at a young age. We need primary schools and high schools to be highlighting the opportunities in the more scientific areas of computing and technology," Luey said.

According to Statistics NZ, the average overall annual salary for a New Zealand employee is $56,000 and the average overall salary for an employee working in tech was recorded as $95,000 in 2016 by NZTech.

MYOB's report found that few female role models meant the tech industry continued to be male-dominated.

"There's been a lack of role models, particularly high-profile ones, as people like to model themselves on someone that they know of or aspire to be, and if there aren't any there it is kind of hard to have that," Luey said.

Frances Valintine, founder of Tech Futures Lab and The Mind Lab, agreed and said that the lack of female representation was problematic.

"You cannot be what you cannot see, I think, is very, very true," Valintine said.

"The solution is to educate those who are much younger, to take away any gender bias within the under 12s, so by the time that they hit university and high school subject choices they are not thinking at all about gender in the role of technology, and I think that's already happening naturally as there's a lot less focus on gender-based roles, but also a lot more confidence around technology and females."

Frances Valintine, founder of Tech Futures Lab and The Mind Lab. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Frances Valintine, founder of Tech Futures Lab and The Mind Lab. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Xero New Zealand country manager Craig Hudson said Anna Curzon, Michelle Dickinson and Frances Valentine were positive female role models.

"These women are doing a fantastic job in promoting technology as an inclusive and progressive career option for women in New Zealand, though of course we can't stop there," Hudson said.

While education was key, Luey said it was also businesses' responsibility to ensure there was gender equality amongst employees and leadership teams.