Boosting the numbers of women in technology jobs is a key goal of a New Zealand group which is celebrating its first year of existence.

Women in Technology (WIT), which this week held its first Christchurch meeting, wants to replicate for women the kind of networking their male colleagues do at the pub.

“Women don’t have a beer together at the end of the day,” says WIT founder Carol Lee Davidson, an Oracle Corp. employee who says she has sunk about NZ$50,000 (US$29,000) of her own money into the group.

“It’s about increasing the talent pool.”

The Christchurch meeting drew about 40 people, says WIT advisory board member Dominique Dowding, an “excellent” turnout representing a broad cross-section of the technology sector.

Dowding, a software developer, is anxious to reverse what she says is a decline in the number of women employed in the sector. The group hopes to do so by encouraging networking and providing career growth opportunities.

It also wants to get the message out to schools, and has applied for government funding to take a road show around the country promoting technology job openings for women.

A just-completed survey by New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development shows a glimmer of hope for females wanting to work in IT as a well-paid professional. It finds that while women are overrepresented in relatively unskilled IT occupations such as data entry and less common than men in skilled and managerial IT jobs at all ages, 15 to 24-year-old females are well ahead of males in managerial roles. While the figures are tiny – less than 1 percent of the working population – in this area young women outrank young men by about a factor of 10.