In a post last week, I wrote about Lisa Falzone, co-founder and CEO of Revel Systems, who made the point that women need to be more willing to at least try to venture out the way she did, and the way her male counterparts do. She’s right, of course. But according to a newly released report from Catalyst, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of opportunities for women in the workplace, making that effort in the technology space may be even more challenging than many women might imagine.
The report, “High Potentials in Tech-Intensive Industries: The Gender Divide in Business Roles,” spotlights research findings that women can expect to find a culture that is especially unwelcoming, whether they pursue careers on the tech side or the business side in technology-intensive industries.
“STEM companies face a serious talent drain as women take their skills elsewhere,” said Deborah Gillis, president and CEO of Catalyst. “But these organizations also have a remarkable opportunity to turn things around by focusing on how they can make all their talent—men and women alike—feel equally valued.”
Another key finding was that women are outsiders, and on unequal footing, from day one:
High potentials who took their first post-MBA job in a business role in a tech-intensive industry were significantly more likely to work on a team with 10 percent or fewer women than those in other industries (tech-intensive industries, 21 percent; other industries, 16 percent).
Also of note, the research found that women in business roles in tech-intensive industries have lower aspirations, due to a lack of role models and vague evaluation criteria:
According to Catalyst, by addressing these barriers, tech-intensive companies can transform their cultures, become an employer of choice for women, and thereby gain a competitive advantage. Catalyst offers the following suggestion as a means of accomplishing that:
A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.