Is the Tech Industry More Welcoming to Women?

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As awareness of the challenges facing women in the tech industry continues to grow, measures intended to help mitigate the problem may be having some effect.

One core problem stems from an education system that has systematically failed to promote inclusion of women. Fortunately, progress is being made with regard to the hiring of women to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes at the nation’s universities. In an editorial opinion piece recently published in The New York Times, Cornell professors Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci report that:

The experiences of young and midcareer women in math-intensive fields are, for the most part, similar to those of their male counterparts: They are more likely to receive hiring offers, are paid roughly the same (in 14 of 16 comparisons across the eight fields), are generally tenured and promoted at the same rate (except in economics), remain in their fields at roughly the same rate, have their grants funded and articles accepted as often and are about as satisfied with their jobs.

Their study concluded that, in sum, math-and-science academia reflects gender fairness, rather than gender bias. But while colleges and universities may have made a lot of progress, a lot more work still needs to done when it comes to encouraging girls to study STEM fields in the first place.

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“We need to get to girls before the university level,” said Judith Hurwitz, principal analyst for Hurwitz & Associates, an IT advisory service. “We need to get to them early and we need to get them role models.”

Hurwitz added that many of the women who have climbed the IT ranks are not particularly good at building networks with other women or mentoring younger ones, which she attributed largely to the culture in which they work: As individuals who operate outside the “boys club,” most of these women became successful in the absence of any social network.

While there is room for improvement when it comes to systematically addressing these issues, a broad number of individual efforts are underway.

CA Technologies, for example, launched Tech Girls Rock, a partnership with Boys & Girls Club of America through which the company pays to expose grade-school girls to technology, including sending them to the recent CA World 2014 conference. Organizations such as the Anita Borg Institute, Catalyst and Women in Technology all promote career development among women in technology. But change comes slowly.

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“I can’t say it’s made a material difference yet at the senior management level of the company,” said Cheryl Cook, vice president of the Dell Enterprise Solutions Group. “As an industry it’s an issue we all struggle with.”

Nevertheless, more women are showing up in senior IT leadership positions within IT organizations. Sara Gates, CEO of Wisegate, a social network for IT professionals, suggested that, while the rank-and-file members of the community are predominately men, there are more women in senior leadership positions: “I think about 20 to 25 percent of the senior IT leaders on the network are women.”

Much of that progress, noted Gates, may have to do with increased demand for IT leaders who have the “soft skills” required to collaborate more closely with the rest of the business. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest that IT organizations that have a greater percent of women working on projects are more productive than those that don’t.

Once that problem is solved, there remains the issue of finding ways for men within IT departments to better interact with women outside the IT department. Speaking at the recent CA World 2014 conference, Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman confessed to attendees that meetings with IT teams can be pretty daunting: “The scariest thing I ever had to do as CEO was pitch my idea to a bunch of IT guys sitting around a table.”

Of course, there are just as many male business executives who no doubt feel the exact same way.

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6 Responses to “Is the Tech Industry More Welcoming to Women?”

  1. James Beatty

    You know you people are nothing more than swill not fit for hogs to munch on you know that. My first Academic adviser was an egyptian man. After he died I just continued on until it was discovered that I was his student and I was assigned a female advisor who was very good to me and she didn’t pull any punches either. SHE WAS and still is a very damn good educator. So why don’t you bozos try another way around the obvious problem you’re having getting this egg off your face? Oh did I fail to mention the department chairperson was a WOMAN who we all feared due to her having the only class that allowed you into the major and she was known to be a BIG PRICK on the details. So hit me with your best shot losers in the industry.

  2. sam sneed

    Try getting an interview for a C level job in tech and you will realize you are totally screwed by the old boys club regardless of your qualifications. There are very few women as software engineers, maybe 1/100th of one percent, and even less in management unless its retard management bozos with no brains.

  3. I have almost 20 years of experience in the IT world, an MBA/ Technology Management GPA of 3.79 ..and I am a female. Working in the IT industry is a joke as a female, unless you know someone to give you a shot.
    I have been to interviews and heard around the corner, “It’s a chick dude.” Seriously folks. I have had men tell me… “I would never hire you.” when asked why… “I have a GED, you have a masters degree.”
    Men don’t need an education and mine is killing me… IT is the wrong field if you are a woman, unless you have been given the position because you knew someone. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone so I have wasted more than 150k in student loans…

    • Thats not wholly true, there are thousands woman working the IT dept…if their lucky with no one giving them the time of day to use the skills they trained for, been in the industry since 1998. I have yet to work with another Girl Tech / SYS admin and not one of my male co-workers ever brought in to train..they kept to their boys club making bank and bring each other along …so tell me what would you do if no one have a crap if you knew how to do something but where never able to use that skill in production…
      IT guys are angry lil men that look down on the females that won’t sex it up for them , since its so few girls allowed… girl tech geeks don’t give a crap about vanity and are punished for being just that…so tell me otherwise since i assume you think ‘she’ is whinning’ kid

  4. James Beatty

    Ladies my first job I had that I truly can say was the best place in he world to work was a fortune 500 company that was headed by a woman who placed most of the senior management as women. It was until she brought in one that I had experience with from a previous position that I left as me and that one didn’t get along. Now I see here about how you are not liking this field. I can understand your dislike believe me. I being one of two african american in my high school graduating class and being just one in my college class find it a very lonely place to be when looking for a comrade to socialize with. You at least have a avenue to vent you displeasure and get a sympathetic ear. Try being the lone piece of coal in the snow. No From what I’ve seen there are few women in I.T. leadership and even fewer in the rank and file. No it is not fair to say the least. I spent over twenty years in the industry and you know I’ve seen more women than African Americans in leadership roles heck I have yet to see any handicap ones either. To be honest though I am also half Native American and I can’t even remember seeing any first nations people take a computer science class. I don’t even recall seeing any on campus…..hhhmmmm The invisible people….;)