Where are the women in IT?
I recently participated in a qualitative study to explore the “low number of women in the US who choose Information Technology as their career paths”. It was an educational experience and I want to share some of the research results and personal opinion in a few blog entries. First the study was done by William Baker who is completing his Master of Science degree in IT Management. His goal was to unearth the ways to increase the number of women in the IT field and why they may not be attracted to this field. Volunteers were surveyed and analyzed to see if there were any trends, which we will talk more about in the next blog.
Some of the facts of this study include that in ‘2008 women accounted for 26% of IT professionals in the US and are outnumbered 6 to 1 in IT leadership positions. (McKInney, Wilson, Brooks, O’Leary-Kelly and Hardgrave). Women also comprise only 20% of the technology sector workforce (according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics 2011). There are definite ramifications to not having women inside these roles and sector including a lack of innovation shown in male only teams including the tendency to “experiment, be creative, share knowledge and fulfill tasks” (Ashcroft and Blithe, 2009). Studies all show that diversity within organizations and within teams are critical to continue the drive to competitiveness and overall success for an organization. For instance in 1940’s a group of women developed the ENIAC computer but never received proper credit for their work till 50 years later (Todd, Mardis & Wall, 2005). Let’s all hope we’re way beyond proper credit and moving into appropriate opportunity and encouragement to join in on the innovation of IT.
So the low numbers of women entering or even considering the IT field are alarming and detrimental to the overall success, innovation and breakthroughs can be attributed through this study to multiple messages coming from this workforce. I’ll detail more in my next blog about some of the reasons for this but start to think about your day to day actives and if your interactions are encouraging your female peers or women in general to get enter the IT world.
-Jennifer Smith, PEI