The IT Gender Gap Is Real and Persistent

By Don Willmott 

This one goes out to all the ladies – or to be more specific, to the female IT workforce that finds itself permanently in the minority and suffering some of the stings of second-class status. It’s a story that’s news every week, though recent developments have brought it back to the forefront.

The topic first came to my attention seven months ago, when I wrote about the size of the female IT workforce, noting it’s now believed to constitute 15 to 25 percent of technical professionals, though women’s ranks in management are about only 8 percent. Studies were reporting that IT could be "brutally dismissive of family life," with one finding "a third of the women in IT had decided to delay having children in order to achieve their career goals."

Over time, some interesting comments popped up under the post. One woman wrote, "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 don’t feel like a victim. I feel blessed to be a parent who has a really cool job."

Another said, "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."

A third wrote, "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 businesswomen! I think they are the worst!"

Frustration may lead to the fact that about 56 percent of technical women leave at the "midlevel" point, more than double the quit rate of men, according to one study. And yet, enough are sticking around to raise the number of female CIOs or EVPs of Technology at 1,000 leading companies from 12 percent to 16.4 percent in the past two years, according to recruiting firm Shelia Greco Associates.

At the same time, the gender gap in terms of salaries between men and women in tech has disappeared, according to the Dice Salary Survey. When examining salaries of both genders at comparable levels of experience, education, and job title, no significant differences can be found. As the survey puts it, "At the end of the day, tech is about skills and applying them to a problem or opportunity. For great programmers, security analysts or project managers, gender shouldn’t play a role. For women, this is empowering news. Knowing you’re in a field that pays for skills, and where hard-to-find skills are prized, means you can look for lateral moves into companies with good track records in career advancement for both genders."

So what can I say to the female IT workforce but hang in there and know that you’re probably in a better position than you would be in other sectors of the economy. Almost 50 years after the Mad Men era and 40 years after Mary Richards arrived at the WJM newsroom to take on Lou Grant, it’s discouraging to think we still even need to keep an eye out for a gender gap. Luckily, tech women stick up for each other at the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Women in Technology International (WITI), two great resources for women to seek out advice and support. They’re working hard to close whatever gender gap may remain.

Comments

6 Responses to “The IT Gender Gap Is Real and Persistent”

April 22, 2010 at 4:00 am, Elizabeth d.,bs,pmp said:

i totally disagree with crayos comment. i have worked in IT for over 26 years. have you? i went to school and worked as a night operator. graduated top of my class…worked at much less pay then my male counterparts with less skills and no college education..when a high political project had to get done…or within an unreasonable time…i would be picked to do it…why? because my managers were men who knew they could do this…my male counterparts are bonding while i’m being taken advantage off..i also had 2 children … two years aga i paid out of my own pocket for my pmp..while a highschool educated male….again…gets the project management position without pmp certificate..but my job requires me to do his proj.mgt work..why? cause our boss is his buddy…get the picture? hasn’t changed since 1979! i have to pay my bills and these men know it! the ONLY Reason why the pay improved is because these men do not want to do the work themselves and trying to keep us hardworking highly skilled women!

Reply

April 22, 2010 at 4:00 am, Elizabeth d.,bs,pmp said:

i totally disagree with crayos comment. i have worked in IT for over 26 years. have you? i went to school and worked as a night operator. graduated top of my class…worked at much less pay then my male counterparts with less skills and no college education..when a high political project had to get done…or within an unreasonable time…i would be picked to do it…why? because my managers were men who knew they could do this…my male counterparts are bonding while i’m being taken advantage off..i also had 2 children … two years aga i paid out of my own pocket for my pmp..while a highschool educated male….again…gets the project management position without pmp certificate..but my job requires me to do his proj.mgt work..why? cause our boss is his buddy…get the picture? hasn’t changed since 1979! i have to pay my bills and these men know it! the ONLY Reason why the pay improved is because these men do not want to do the work themselves and trying to keep us hardworking highly skilled women!

Reply

April 22, 2010 at 9:38 am, Crayos S.A. said:

You talk of an “IT Gender Gap” as if it is a bad thing, yet what about the “Gender Gap” of males in other sectors? There is nothing “sad” or “to keep an eye on” in this case. I’ve tutored, taught and mentored IT professionals for 7 years, and worked in the development industry for 20.

This is not a discrimination “Gap”, not as many women are interested in low-level IT jobs like Sys. Admin or Developer. In Project Management for IT there are plenty of women in ratio to men.

Because one gender has a proclivity to not enter an arena is not a reason to make a headline. Look at your schools, female drop out rate for IT is high while entrance rate is low. It’s a choice, let it lay. They become amazing Scientists or engineers, let them.

For the women who leave at mid-level, this is where you separate the “pro’s” from the “never make it’s”. The percentage quit rate of women compared to men is only high because there is less women in the first place than men. As more women enter the arena, that percentage will lower.

Whether women or men, around 40-50% of professional’s I’ve met have mediocre skills and happen to be resentful, poor employees in the sector. Weed them out.

It’s not “Brutally dismissive” of family life, it’s brutally dismissive of individuals. It’s not uncommon to work more overtime than most service professionals, or even stay at the office. It’s tricky for anyone single or not. Put in your time early in life, than find a good company who is concerned about quality of life.

Reply

April 22, 2010 at 9:38 am, Crayos S.A. said:

You talk of an “IT Gender Gap” as if it is a bad thing, yet what about the “Gender Gap” of males in other sectors? There is nothing “sad” or “to keep an eye on” in this case. I’ve tutored, taught and mentored IT professionals for 7 years, and worked in the development industry for 20.

This is not a discrimination “Gap”, not as many women are interested in low-level IT jobs like Sys. Admin or Developer. In Project Management for IT there are plenty of women in ratio to men.

Because one gender has a proclivity to not enter an arena is not a reason to make a headline. Look at your schools, female drop out rate for IT is high while entrance rate is low. It’s a choice, let it lay. They become amazing Scientists or engineers, let them.

For the women who leave at mid-level, this is where you separate the “pro’s” from the “never make it’s”. The percentage quit rate of women compared to men is only high because there is less women in the first place than men. As more women enter the arena, that percentage will lower.

Whether women or men, around 40-50% of professional’s I’ve met have mediocre skills and happen to be resentful, poor employees in the sector. Weed them out.

It’s not “Brutally dismissive” of family life, it’s brutally dismissive of individuals. It’s not uncommon to work more overtime than most service professionals, or even stay at the office. It’s tricky for anyone single or not. Put in your time early in life, than find a good company who is concerned about quality of life.

Reply

April 25, 2010 at 10:13 am, Ms.L. said:

I have a sister who is a Mechanical Engineer for a huge a defense contractor. She has been with the company for 18 years, working her way up from a starting job of soldering circuit boards. She is the only female in the department which she has been in for the last 5 years. She actually had one of the men come up to her recently and tell her that she was taking a good paying job away from some hard-working man with a family to feed. They give her all the crap projects they don’t want, and deliberately leave her out of meetings when the boss is out of the office. They put her in charge of cleaning out the refrigerator, and the coffee pot, and cutting the cake and cleaning up when they celebrate something. When ever she gets the tiniest amount of recognition, they sabotage her drawings, or move her to some obscure project that is about to run out of funding so if a lay-off is looming, she doesn’t have any critical projects in her queue. She never makes a peep about the discriminatory treatment because she doesn’t want to be seen as the whiney female crybaby. There are still pockets of traditionally male jobs where the men have established a beach head and use every trick they can think up to keep women out, or scare them away. Engineers are the worst! Software, hardware, electrical, or mechanical, they all still believe that women don’t belong in the profession.

Reply

April 25, 2010 at 10:13 am, Ms.L. said:

I have a sister who is a Mechanical Engineer for a huge a defense contractor. She has been with the company for 18 years, working her way up from a starting job of soldering circuit boards. She is the only female in the department which she has been in for the last 5 years. She actually had one of the men come up to her recently and tell her that she was taking a good paying job away from some hard-working man with a family to feed. They give her all the crap projects they don’t want, and deliberately leave her out of meetings when the boss is out of the office. They put her in charge of cleaning out the refrigerator, and the coffee pot, and cutting the cake and cleaning up when they celebrate something. When ever she gets the tiniest amount of recognition, they sabotage her drawings, or move her to some obscure project that is about to run out of funding so if a lay-off is looming, she doesn’t have any critical projects in her queue. She never makes a peep about the discriminatory treatment because she doesn’t want to be seen as the whiney female crybaby. There are still pockets of traditionally male jobs where the men have established a beach head and use every trick they can think up to keep women out, or scare them away. Engineers are the worst! Software, hardware, electrical, or mechanical, they all still believe that women don’t belong in the profession.

Reply

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.