Food for Thought: Women in Technology

October 19th, 2010 | Food for Thought | No Comments »

When it comes to the balance of genders in the workplace, the IT industry presents an interesting scenario. In a time when the large majority of fields and disciplines have even numbers of male and female workers, IT is still largely generalized as a predominantly male field.

Even more curious is that out of the few women who are in IT, many of them are in higher, more executive positions. Despite this, the ultimate fact is that even though IT employment has grown significantly over the years, women IT workers are still grossly under-represented.

There’s a lot of in-depth literature out there exploring the reasons behind this, but no concrete explanation has yet been determined. There are, however, a number of theories addressing this phenomenon.
Some say that because the field has been male-dominated for so long, the industry as a whole hasn’t yet catered to female career needs and desires, such as an abundance of mentors, work-life balance, and recognition.

Some say the imbalance exists due to lingering cultural stereotypes. For example, the view that women are better at human skills while men are better at task-oriented skills. These stereotypes limit the number of women who go into IT.

Others say simply that the personality traits typically associated with working in IT are more masculine; such as, being assertive, analytical, risk-taking, collaborative, and confident. It is the existence or lack of these masculine traits that lead someone to be attracted to or disinterested in technology.

No matter what the reason, many groups have formed to encourage female participation in IT and study this situation further. For more information, check out resources from the NCWIT or WITI.

Clare Webster – Marketing Director at Ashley Ellis