Survey Finds Little Progress for Women in IT

Susan Hall

A survey by Women in Technology finds that little has changed for female IT workers since the UK-based group's 2007 poll.


While 61 percent of respondents have more than 10 years of experience, only 26 percent have reached senior management or board level. In fact, about half are at the junior or middle-management level or were consultants. In 2007, 39 percent had 10 years of experience and 19 percent were at the senior management or board level. The number at the board level has grown by 1 percentage point to 3 percent.


Nextgov quotes the report:

Slide Show

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Tips from "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating."

These results indicate that the big strides toward equality that we had hoped for in 2007 have not yet happened and that the gender balance in the workplace still has a long way to go.

Among the findings:

  • 75 percent believe there is a culture requiring long hours. There also is concern that while flexible hours are offered in theory, that doesn't necessarily pan out in practice, which can be limiting to women with family obligations.
  • Their top four reasons for taking a job were salary, benefits, career opportunity and flexible hours. However, only 7 percent had left a job because the hours were not flexible. They were much more likely to leave a job for a better opportunity.
  • 76 percent chose not to be involved in women's networks, preferring instead support services that were not gender-specific.
  • Although many felt they were repeatedly passed over for promotions, many also said they were more interested in technical roles than management. That echoes the importance of providing ways to advance that do not require going into management.


An article at Knowledge@Wharton looks at the barriers women face in the workplace, especially when the culture is built around "masculine norms." Though I don't necessarily agree with its vision for a workplace built on "female norms," (koi ponds? a farmers market? OK, I like farmers markets. And koi ponds.) I've worked in enough male-dominated workplaces to know there are cultural differences. (I remember one guy flossing his teeth during the big bull session every day at lunch.)


The Wharton article refers to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study on the reasons women leave engineering. The study subjects found it difficult to prioritize their work and home lives if their bosses were not sensitive to their need to do so. Those who left the profession reported a lack of training opportunities, being passed over for challenging assignments or struggling with ambiguous roles that left no clear path to advancement.


Co-author Nadya A. Fouad also suspects that some opportunities might slip by because women don't find out about them in the informal ways that men might, such as on the golf course or even in the restroom.

"If you're in the network, you know what those next steps will be" to take advantage of an opportunity," she points out, "and if you're out of that informal network, you may just not know."

In that context, women's preference for networks of both genders makes sense.


We all have to be actively managing our own careers these days and this career path flow chart can help. It's another great resource from our IT Downloads center.

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