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Are These the Last Days of Boys' Club IT?

Nate Vickery

In the year 2016, 55 years after the human race launched a person into space; the women are still not earning the same wage as their male counterparts. In the UK, the gender pay gap was 19.7% in 2013, the last year we have the statistics for. This was 0.1 per cent worse than in 2012. In the US, women earn 79¢ for every dollar that men earn. As explained in this great article from Vox, the issue is much more complex than mere numbers.

In IT, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the tech field has traditionally struggled with including women. Silicon Valley, a supposed beacon of progressivism and forward thinking is commonly described as a boys' club where women are unwelcome or at least discouraged from showcasing their abilities. They are also constantly exposed to sexist behaviour.

In essence, much of the IT field is still a boys' club, which is a huge mistake, especially when it comes to naming CIOs and filling other IT management positions where women are often overlooked.

An Ongoing Problem

The lack of women in the leading IT positions is the end result of something that starts at a very young age, when girls are "directed" towards certain fields. STEM is certainly not one of these fields. That is why, by the time colleges are being considered, only a very small number of young women decide to study computer sciences. In the UK, only 13% of computer science students are female, which is actually a lower percentage than in 2010, when it was at 14%.

The next step is that only 3% of IT and computing engineers in the UK are women. No, we did not leave out a zero. Three percent. It is a mind-boggling figure. You can find out more on this in this article from Computer World UK.

When it comes to getting promoted, things are even worse, as female professionals in general struggle to get promoted after they have turned 30, and in some cases even to get employee benefits when going on a maternity leave. In IT, another factor that prevents female IT experts from attaining management positions is the fact they are not being assigned high-visibility projects which are crucial for getting promoted in any organization.

More interestingly, women are actually more likely to attain the position of the CIO than any of the management positions in IT below it. The reason for this is that the job of a CIO does not require the person in question to have STEM education or even much experience in IT. For the most part, women who get promoted to CIO come from other departments.

Why the World Needs Women in Tech

The mere fact that we are posting a question like this shows that we need more women in tech. The answer is the same as it is in any other industry – an atmosphere where someone talented and skilled is being valued less because of something as inconsequential as their gender is an atmosphere where you do not get the best people filling the roles.

Moreover, since they are made to work harder from their earliest days in tech, women in IT often work more during their school and college years, as well as once their careers start. Having to work twice as hard as someone else makes you better at that job.

Women are also more likely to work better in teams due to the higher (on average) emotional intelligence. Since a lot of IT work is done in teams, this is an advantage that cannot be ignored.

When it comes to management positions, the need for more women in IT becomes even more pronounced. For one, the heightened emotional intelligence allows for better relationships with partners, suppliers, as well as the other departments within a corporation. In addition to this, female IT managers are also more likely to head meetings better, which can be a huge issue with designers and developers.

What the Future Holds

The good news is that things are starting to move in the right direction. Recent research showed that the number of women heading departments has doubled in only one year. Companies have also started pushing for diversity and governments are also getting involved.

Recruitment companies and consultants are also doing their share, placing female candidates at senior-level IT positions more regularly than ever before.

The best thing is that things will advance even more rapidly in the future as the result of the steps that are being made today.

By Nate Vickery, Consultant
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