Friday, March 29, 2013


Women are underrepresented in high-tech and IT management jobs?  Still?

I guess I can't argue with the numbers, but it's frustrating that we never find out why -- and try to address it.  All I have to go on is my own experience, so here are some possible reasons why IT doesn't attract more women:

  • IT is, by nature, detail-oriented and linear.  Perhaps my sisters, like I do,  prefer themes and multi-tasking? (I make myself focus, though.)
  • IT is fast-paced and it's difficult to keep up with the latest versions, the latest products, the latest innovation.  Perhaps my sisters, like I do, like to be able to master one thing and feel good about it for a bit, without instantly feeling behind-the-8-ball on another topic. 
  • IT is very ego-driven; whoever argues their point loudest generally gets to try their solution first. Even if it's not the most elegant, whichever solution proves effective first generally gets used -- and gets the kudos.  Perhaps my sisters, like I do, prefer to vette the best possible solution, trying a few different things on an equal playing field until one surfaces as the best solution?
  • IT is political. You'd think the line-of-business units would have all the politics, right? Nope. Wherever there's a budget, people will count how many FTEs report to so-and-so. Also, as much as I'd like IT to be about the pure "best choice for the organization," many IT recommendations are trumped by "business decisions," meaning that even though we have a top-notch solution, other factors can reject it.  Perhaps my sisters, like I do, prefer to deal with straightforward decision-making?
I don't have the answers either.  I wouldn't ask women to change their core personality -- or change the nature of IT necessarily, but I suspect that my male colleagues would be happy to have a few more women around.  And women can do the work.  I believe women can find IT work interesting and fulfilling.  Maybe those of us in the field just need to say it loud enough to be heard -- and hold a hand out to the young women who DO take a chance on IT.


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