The Female IT Professional

by Modis on January 17, 2012

No Gravatar

When you think of IT professionals, you probably imagine a man. Why? Well, there’s a running stereotype that men do that sort of work, but it’s not based on fiction. The gender gap in information technology has been present, but people have been working more and more to alleviate this discrepancy. So how bad is the gap? Here’s a look at what’s going on for women in the IT industry.

What are the numbers?

The lack of women in tech-related jobs probably goes all the way back to college. According to a Computing Research Association report, 18% of computer science and computer engineering degrees were awarded to women in the 1993/1994 school year. Compare that to only 12% of the degrees being awarded to women in the 2006/2007 school year.

From there, the statistics don’t get much better. In 2010, women made up 22% of computer programmers and 20.9% of computer software engineers.According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women hold 25% of IT jobs. In a report from Women in Technology, 61% of the women who responded had more than 10 years of experience, but only 26% reached senior management level, according to the study.

What’s going on, and how can it change?

It could be said that sexism is uncommon in the IT industry, but there are still examples of how women are treated differently from men. For example, an article in The New York Times leads with Candace Fleming, who was told by a venture capitalist that if she had a business card, all they would say on it is “Mom.” She had an M.B.A from Harvard and had held a management position at Hewlett-Packard.

Even if it might not be highly prevalent, people are working to fix that negative perception of women and balance the gender ratio in the IT industry. The same article in The New York Times mentions that organizations are striving to increase awareness and mentor women entrepreneurs as well as try to connect them to investors.

At an April Collaborate 11 Oracle user conference, members of a panel discussion suggested that mentors could play a major role in assisting women in advancing their IT careers, according to Computerworld. Elizabeth Stark — the founder of the Open Video Alliance — holds a similar opinion, as expressed in this Huffington Post piece. Stark was paired with an older male computer science professor and surrounded by men when she was considering majoring in CS. She ended up picking social science.

Stark said if she had had a mentor that encouraged her to pursue the CS degree, she probably would have chosen differently. She suggests that having more female mentors who can be role models for people pursuing IT-related majors so the students will enter the workforce with the perception that both genders actively participate in the industry.

What are some recent wins?

These stats and anecdotes shouldn’t make the whole landscape look bleak. Women have come a long way in the IT industry, and there have been some major accomplishments achieved in recent years. IT World highlighted several women who’ve held executive positions and discussed their major impact on the IT industry we know today.

Change is happening in other parts of the world, too. ComputerWeekly reported on a study by the Chartered Management Institute that shows women who are junior IT executives in the UK are being paid more than men holding the same positions.

But even individuals have been successful in making a change. According to a Forbes article, President of Harvey Mudd College Dr. Maria Klawe helped increase the percentage of women computer science majors at her college by making recruiting materials more female-friendly, revising the curriculum, and instituting the participation of women at national conferences concerning technology, among other changes.

Conclusion

While there are still some challenges for women to overcome in regard to hiring, pay, and perception in the IT industry, huge strides have been made, and women are typically treated well at their IT jobs. It’s important to point out the discrepancies, however, so that they’re made known and can be changed. The industry will hopefully continue to shift in a more gender-balanced fashion so that women can have an equally gratifying experience as men.

Related Posts

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John Brady January 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

Who writes this stuff? Actually a more pressing question would be is someone really getting paid to research and write this? or is it just some opinionated non-shaver with too much time on her hands (most likely). I have recruited IT pros into some of the biggest banks in the country for the last 12 years and at no point have I ever spoken to a Woman stating she is desperate to break into programming but no man will give her a chance! Completely the opposite as a matter of fact, at least 75% of the Women developers I have ever placed have actually achieved a HIGHER rate/salary than men of an equal skill-set and ability because their is less of them around, companies will pay higher rates to get them on board. So I fail to see how its men holding women back as this article seems to suggest but simply less Women have a desire to do technical roles than men. Female Project Managers are held in the same regard as men, in my past many Women have got the position over a man going for the same role and of the Creatives I have placed women designers have just as much chance as men at the same role. In some instances I have had a client come to me and ask for Women only candidates. They are a minority because they are a minority not because they are constantly oppressed!

Tori Johnson January 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

We welcome comments and posts but Modis reserves the right to remove any offensive content. As always, we thank our readers for their input and the expression of their views.

Chris B February 3, 2012 at 1:07 am

@John Brady

Perhaps you should examine the stereotypes in society surrounding studies such as math (which would be relevant in the case of computer science) and consider how those would affect female interest in entering those programs. I would argue that stereotypes ingrained in women from an early age are an oppressive factor that keeps female enrollment rates in programs such as computer science down; even when math tests at an early age show that girls and boys are evenly matched. Afterall, you need look no further than government to see that we are clearly in a patriarchy.

Also, reading your post personally offends me as as I think that it is quite biased against women. I’d further caution you that , as you mentioned that you recruit for banks, our big 5 seem to be taking increasingly bold stabs at being equitable employers and attitudes like the ones expressed in your post probably won’t earn you a bonus with any of them.

I feel like your post is akin to saying: “Before women could vote, it’s not that men prevented them from doing so, they just had no head for politics.” As we can see now the thought I put in quotes is clearly dated, and borders on insanity, as I feel like your post will seem 40 years from now.

Just my thoughts,

aEntryLevelModisTermEmployee

Some research:
(http://faculty.washington.edu/agg/pdf/Cvencek,%20Meltzoff,%20Greenwald_%20Gender_Stereotypes_in%20Press.pdf)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Modis