As the fastest-growing technology sector in the country, the ACT must harness its growth to welcome more women into the workforce or risk damaging the economy, an industry body says.
Industry experts say investment in training is also key to ensure there are enough workers to keep up with expected growth.
Women make up just 29 per cent of Australia's tech sector. An Australian Computer Society Digital Pulse report warned without major steps to address the issue, the lack of women could cost the economy $11 billion over the next 20 years.
Canberra's tech sector is booming with a 16.3 per cent increase in jobs in the past year; four times national growth.
Experts say the boom is primarily led by federal government departments making major digital shifts. But as demand for jobs is expected to continue to increase, more diversity and more training should be high priorities.
The report found the ACT had the biggest proportion of information communication technology workers in the country; at 12.8 per cent of the workforce it is almost double the national share.
The sector is predicted to continue to grow by 5.5 per cent to have 42,698 positions by 2026.
ACS ACT branch manager Vicki Gardiner said that growth should be harnessed to increase diversity and close the gender gap in the technology sector.
She said the industry was ideal for people, particularly women, looking to get back into the workforce, change careers or increase hours because almost half ICT workers don't have formal qualifications.
"They're expecting the industry admin and logistic support to be the biggest growing occupation group up until 2026," she said.
"Those kinds of occupations are really good for those who are coming out of other sectors. I think that's really an opportunity for women to get back into the workforce."
The report said there had been "minimal progress" to improve diversity since 2015, with women's representation increasing by just 0.75 per cent per year.
ACS president Ian Opperman said there was an "obvious need" to increase the number of women in STEM jobs to meet the projected 1.1 million jobs expected over the next five years.
"With our current national population in the tech sector at about 800,000, if we don't attract more women, then we really genuinely run the risk of falling substantially short," he said.
Dr Gardiner said tech jobs needed a rebranding, particularly focused at girls in high school, highlighting the diversity of the industry.
"Its not just about the coder who sits in a dark room, "she said.
"Technology careers actually span a huge diversity in roles. ICT admin, project managers ... [and] you have the big coding thing."
Although information technology was the fastest growing area for university domestic enrolments, the report warned of an "impending gap" due to a lack of training to meet the demande for another 60,000 workers needed each year with only 7000 domestic IT graduates.
Australian National University senior lecturer at the Research School of Computer Science, Tom Worthington, said without investment in more training the sector could face a shortage of specialist skills.
"The universities are educating people and computing has done quite well in maintaining the number of students that we have ... but there is still a problem attracting enough experienced people," he said.
Mr Worthington warned without enough skilled people to fill jobs, government departments would be more reliant on outsourcing.
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