What Women Want

After reading the Educase article about women CIOs in Higher Education, I started to think about women in the Information Technology field.  This is a topic that I had not given much thought prior to reading this article, but in doing so, I realized the extent of the minority problem in technology-related fields.  After reading Tracy Mayor’s article from Computerworld, I think there are many factors that influence a woman’s place in the workforce that many people don’t consider.  I will highlight some of the limiting features that keep women from pursuing jobs in technology as well as mentioning some of the forwardly-seeking good precautions that are being acted upon today in order to prevent the minority problem from continuing.

Technology is a very demanding field, and the underlying fickle uncertainties engrained into the job make it difficult for a woman to hold a job and raise a family at the same time.  For example, if something goes wrong at 3pm, it’s hard to just leave work to go pick up the kids when a bug needs to be fixed immediately.  The time commitment is not the only drawback.  Since men make up a majority of the technology workplace, the numbers alone draw some women away.  A lopsided composition means a woman’s voice may not be as well-heard because companies often make decisions based off a majority anyways.  A third drawback to being a woman in technology is that in this field, a woman’s gender is often an over-valued or over-appreciated quality.  Consequently, too much emphasis is placed on her gender, what clothes she wears, etc., rather than the merit of her work.

The problems I discussed above have kept women away from technology, but another element that contributes to the minority is exposure.  Young girls are not given the same amount of exposure to code and technology as boys are, but organizations have been formed to help prevent issues of unequal exposure.  It’s important to develop an understanding and appreciation for technology in girls from a young age in order to keep them interested in this field in the future.  Additionally, I think it’s crucial to emphasize the fact that women are needed in technology, and that their decisions and opinions can often be more impactful than those of men in the field, contrary to what some may believe.  Many companies want a nice mixture of men and women so that they can target their users more accurately.  Diversity is an elemental factor to much of a company’s success because diverse groups are likely to be composed of thinkers that are most representative of customers.

Lastly, I think women need to be aware of what’s current in the technology field.  In raising awareness, we may be able to encourage more women into the workplace.  We have to get rid of the glass ceiling in addition to emphasizing quality of work rather than emphasizing gender-based issues.  If women start to feel that they are needed, respected, and will be praised for the merit of their work, I suspect more women will enter the IT workplace.

References:  http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9233690/Women_in_IT_How_deep_is_the_bench_?taxonomyId=14&pageNumber=1

Click to access EducauseWomenCIOsHigherEd2012.pdf

About cbaughma

Senior at University of Michigan studying Informatics: Data Mining & Information Analysis
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3 Responses to What Women Want

  1. Sabarish says:

    I liked how this article brought out the issues women face in the workforce and how easy it is to go with the majority opinion while ignoring certain basic needs of the minority. I believe the trend is changing, especially in countries like China and India, where more women are in technology jobs than ever before. A lot is still needed to be done to make every space inclusive for women and other minorities. The effect of having women in the workforce is changing and challenging so many long held views in so many other spheres like marriage, family, financial dependence, etc. and as expected there is a lot of friction, but hopefully things will get better as more women enter the workforce.

    You might find this article on Women and India interesting – http://www.rediff.com/money/column/guest-women-power-revolution-in-the-making/20091119.htm

  2. caseylynn122 says:

    The past two years, I lived in the Women in Science and Engineering Residential Program and we had discussions like this a lot! We talked a lot about how some of the STEM industries are trying to improve work-life balance to attract more women into the field. We also discussed how sometimes women are more comfortable talking to other women, so pursuing male dominated careers can be uncomfortable and unappealing to women.

  3. cyberprofgus says:

    There’s some good news in the fact that HP, IBM and Yahoo are all led by women.

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