Women In IT

Today I read this article about women in IT and was shocked at how men were made out to be in the piece.

Quote from page two:

Women have a hard time taking on those assignments because you can dive and fail to catch. If a man fails, his buddies dust him off and say, “It’s not your fault; try again next time.” A women fails and is never seen again. A woman cannot survive a failure. So they become risk-averse in a culture where risk is rewarded.

This entire comment is obviously written by someone who has never worked with a bunch of guys trying to meet a deadline! Seriously, let me spell out some realities for you.

  1. Lose the “I am a victim” nonsense. Your boss wants results, not a gender check. I know women in IT that would likely laugh at this idea that women are “afraid of failure”. It’s complete nonsense. I believe the truth is that they would rather work with people, often of their gender, in which they can relate to.
  2. Men do not “dust each other off” as described in the above quote. While they are not actually out to down play each other either, the idea that that men receive some sort of special hand-holding treatment is a silly dream thought up by someone who is apparently living in a fantasy.
  3. Technology is difficult, sometimes unpleasant and often thankless work. Whether you repair computers, take calls at a help desk or are managing massive amounts of data, you experience tiring, tedious work. If there is a trend with one group of people not sticking around for this work, that is most likely reflective of their personality and where they see that job going.
  4. As for the belief that we need to work harder to bring more of one gender to the table, I again would ask – why does the company who is potentially hiring care? So long as everyone is treated fairly, is listened to and valued on equal terms, the rest of the job experience is up to the employee.

Now to soften things up a bit, there are some truths to assigned gender perceptions in the IT world as well.

  1. IT is predominately male. I can understand that might not be all that appealing, yet I would point out that at one time the same was true of nursing, yet someone that managed to balance out over time?
  2. Stereotypes can die-hard in IT. We might like to pretend this is not true, however take a good look around sometime. Is that a work place environment that is truly compatible for both genders? Sometimes yes, but more often than not it is a bit sexist. This is something that is still being trail blazed by those women with enough guts to use the rules to ensure that they are treated fairly. Their best weapon is to let their work speak for itself.

Speaking for myself, I would love to see more women in IT. Not because it has any affect on me personally, rather because it would provide a base for other young women looking to take a leap into this crazy world of surly perfectionists role models from which to emulate. The problem is and likely will always be that bringing in more of one gender to offset dominance by another means nothing to the bottom line financially. Afterall, often the thought going forward is why not bring in someone who is actively applying for the position rather than fishing for someone who may not be?

My thinking is more female IT mentoring means better gender opportunity without stooping to articles in which gender roles keep rolling along with a victim’s mentality.

Hopefully coming soon: I am working on getting an interview done with a woman that has worked in the IT field for a number of years. I think you might be surprised by many of her perspectives. Stay tuned…

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  • http://www.smallbusinesscomputerconsulting.com/blog Small Business Computer Consulting Blog

    It’s definitely inevitable that stereotypes of women and men are going to get brought up when you’re talking about a field that is predominantly anything – whether male or female. It’s pretty disappointing that the types of statements you mention would even find their way into an article that is supposed to be “serious” or a look into the realities and challenges of IT for women (and I think these types of articles can be very valuable at informing both men and women about the climate as well as possibly even encouraging and inspiring more women to participate in this field). I hope we will eventually see a balancing out of genders in the IT world, because it really is valuable to have a mixture of different personalities and also plenty of choices when you are a business owner looking for good technical people of EITHER gender with which to work. And I also hope we get more real, interesting and representative articles written in the future from real people working in the field of both genders that are willing to share their experiences. I think these types of case studies can be incredibly invaluable to other computer consultants and help create a real IT community.

  • PTyson

    Some of the first programmers for the ENIAC computer were women. Women in IT have been around for a long time.

  • Thomas Kluck

    I have worked closely with IT professionals for over 30 years. By keeping reasonably current I usually wound up being the liaison between senior. engineers (old farts) and the IT people (geeks).
    I came, over the years, to appreciate the isolated condition of the IT professional. Even greater distance from the main stream office than the engineers and with a far less complementary stereotype image.
    Age may have made me cynical, but the main reason I want to see many more women enter the IT field is so that these deserving young nerds can have a fighting chance to get lucky. Perhaps even mate and breed.
    I hear the political correctness vigilantes at my door and must flee to the safety of senior citizen center.

  • Randy Allen

    I find the “It’s not your fault; try again next time.” laughable. I have NEVER made that statement. What we really do is fix the problem and then ridicule the person that made the mistake, until someone else makes the next mistake, then it’s their turn to be ridiculed. Hey, you take your fun where you find it. Women shouldn’t expect to be treated differently than the norm.

  • http://www.monkeypro.net/rosedragon rosiana

    I’m a woman, I love IT, was working around it, and now writing IT newsletter in Indonesia.

    I would like to add that woman tends to seek peaceful-social life like devoting time with family at her old time than man. That might the reason of high retirement percentage.

    When a woman start working in IT, there is high chance that the other employee will think she is incompetent. But after awhile, they will see and admit it is not (if you are competent). I believe prejudice never stay long in an office.