Is IT Still a Man’s World?

Here are some numbers to ponder:

Though IT remains largely a male-dominated realm in the United States, women are now believed to constitute 15% to 25% of technical professionals – though women’s ranks in management are about only 8%.

Women in ITThat’s the kickoff of Ellen Messmer’s NetworkWorld article on where women stand in IT today. It’s an interesting read not only for the outnumbered women on IT teams but also for their male teammates.

The bad news:

There’s troubling evidence that some high-tech firms are pushing highly educated female workers to the brink of burn-out in a business atmosphere that expects round-the-clock hours, is brutally dismissive of family life and marginalizes them in a sea of highly educated men.

One study found that "a third of the women in IT had decided to delay having children in order to achieve their career goals, while 18% of men indicated the same. And for the sake of their jobs, 9% of the surveyed women decided to forego children completely, compared with 3.5% of men." While work/family issues trouble both men and women, it’s clearly the women who are troubled more.

More bad news:

In some parts of the world, the idea of women in traditional male job roles is simply rejected in business – by men at least. This means when women IT professionals walk into such situations, they find themselves treading gingerly – often using male associates as cover, making them the main presenters of ideas they would otherwise be the first to express.

Still, Messmer’s article is ultimately uplifting: She profiles women who have made it and are eager to share their advice on how women can get ahead in the IT business without having to make any more compromises than their male colleagues. 

— Don Willmott

5 Responses to “Is IT Still a Man’s World?”

  1. I have been a woman in I.T. for ten years. I never felt that there is discrimination against women. I do on the other hand think that people who have less responsibilities outside of work thus more time to work on the job or improve their skills with training,certification and associating with others in the field will always have a leg up on those who can only devote 40 hours per week to their career. I don’t think it is a woman thing. I think it is more related to the amount of time a person is willing or able to devote to their career. I only work 40 to 45 hours a week due to family obligations I have accepted that this contstraint limits my success somewhat but that is my choice. I don’t feel like a victim. I feel blessed to be a parent who has a really cool job.

  2. This is certainly valid occurrence experienced by many of the women I’ve met during my 15 years in IT. I’ve had my own experiences as well, being relegated to less technical responsibilities (and many times administrative)on a team while the males attended to LAN/infrastructure issues. These males were no more qualified than I and lacked many of the certifications most IT LAN admins hold. Frustrated with my inability to get ahead in corporate America, I went off to do independent IT consulting. This increased my skill set and my income significantly.

  3. I’m a woman in IT and have been here for 15 years. I haven’t experienced any discrimination but I do know how to negotiate salary and “talk” like a man. My friends are mostly men. LOL the only time I ever had any issues at the workplace was when I worked for business women! I think they are the worst! IT women rock!

  4. I agree that it’s a man’s world. At my current company the IT jobs were recently reclassified. I learned that me and the other woman in my group were put in a lower level and basically demoted (moved to a lower pay scale). The men were given the Sr. and Lead job titles.

  5. Jennifer Spengler

    I am a woman in IT as well. I am currently very disgruntled. I am proud of the extent of my knowledge as well as my ability and drive. Aside from all of that, I am always determined to help improve things for our department. The problem is, it seems like I’m never heard. My (good!) ideas seem to fall on deaf ears, and if they’re heard at all, they’re misunderstood. I really enjoy what I do, but lately I feel underestimated and unappreciated. And it’s not that I don’t like my boss; I do. But the communication is just not up to par. Should I be more “like a man” and just “suck it up?” Or should I risk being the “IT Bitch” and continue to voice my opinions/ideas, even though it’s likely wasted breath..?