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IWD: International Women’s Day & the IT industry

What a surprise- another year of women complaining that there are not enough women in the IT industry! We get the token female CEO or CIO to talk at our IWD lunches & we all shake our heads in horror that there are not more women in the industry.

Why aren’t there more women in the IT industry?

Perhaps because to get a start you have to do an IT or computer science degree with a bunch of pointy headed male nerds? (Now that I’ve spent a significant number of years at work with nerds I’m glad I spent my undergrad days with a bunch of male philosophers instead.)

Perhaps because most entry level IT jobs have terrible hours and a lot of weekend work? When was the last time we did a code drop or network upgrade during daylight hours on a weekday?

Perhaps because men still do not think women can do hands on techie stuff or use tools? And this in spite of many of having our own power tools these days (I’ve got a really good set of powered and non powered tools & my male partner is not allowed near them).

Perhaps because women still do not think that they are capable of doing technical things? Come on Moms, when did you last encourage your daughter to pull her computer apart?

Perhaps because in many ways it is a grungy job? How many girls want to crawl around and play with hardware when they could dress up nicely and wear high heels. Let’s face it, after 12+ years of school clothes most girls want a nice dress, some makeup & a nice pair of shoes to wear to work – not jeans and a screwdriver.

I don’t know why there are so few women in IT. But here are a few reasons I am still working in IT:

  1. I am not very sensitive, tend to ignore other people and just do what I want – so even when people tried to deflect me from working in IT I just ignored them.
  2. I know how men think and act because 4 out of 5 children in my family had penises (this helps if you have to work with men – which many of us do).
  3. I like playing with technology and am not afraid of either software or hardware. My personal observation in the workplace is that many men will give things a go while women hang back waiting for an invitation. Not many women were building web pages for the heck of it like the guys in the IT department when the web came in.
  4. I take a lot of initiative and make myself useful – it is harder for people to get rid of good performers of any gender.

Some researchers attribute the low rates of female participation in IT to women unfriendly workplaces. Face up to it, workplaces are not just women unfriendly they are PEOPLE unfriendly. If women do not want to participate in the work then they cannot change the workplaces from outside. More women have to want to work in IT, if women do not want to do this work then they will vote with their feet. Just like they are doing now. I’m just not sure how we can change this.