IT Employment

Survey: Calling all women in IT

If you are a woman in IT, please take this survey to discern the underlying issues with women's participation in the workforce.

Editor's note: This poll has now been closed. Dr. Repack has agreed to share results with me in a couple of weeks.

Dr. Diana Repack, of Robert Morris University, and her team are currently researching the decline of women's enrollment in computing degrees and thereafter in professional positions in the Information Technology domain.

If you are a woman in IT, would you help them out by completing a survey? The objective of this survey is to understand underlying issues with women's participation in computing workforce. Please answer all questions to the best of your ability. We anticipate that this should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.

Click here to take the survey.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

14 comments
nrobin
nrobin

Would like to see the results of this..how do we do that? thx

Techie Mom
Techie Mom

I remember there being a lot of female COBOL programmers at the Automated Logistics Management Activity in the mid-1970s. The field was new and no one had grown up with computers. I think what happened is that teenage boys claimed computers, and teenage girls were excluded. I still work for the US government, although not the Army. The ratio of men to women in IT in my organization has been pretty constant at 3 or 4 to 1 over the past 15 years or so.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Should I take the survey, just in case?

NWwoman
NWwoman

Have you ever been in a university computer science curriculum? There are so few females that it's more often than naught...zero. Many of the females I speak to say they are intimidated by the thought of taking "all male" courses. Other females don't have female peers to speak to that give them the cultural/social encouragement to forge ahead in the CS arena. There's nothing wrong with gathering data in order to determine how best to develop a persuasive program encouraging more women to get into the CS field. It's certainly better than developing a strategy that is out of touch with female perception. My criticism of the survey is that the questions were not sufficiently deep. They only touched the bare surface of thought; to truly be effective someone needs to rewrite the survey questions so they probe deeper.

OurITLady
OurITLady

I haven't worked with many women in IT (I'm frequently the only one on the team), but I don't believe there's any reason for that other than the fact that many women have no interest in the subject. Why do the powers that be keep going round in the same circles they have been for decades trying to get people interested in things they just don't care about. Different careers attract different personalities and abilities, accept that and move on.

jkameleon
jkameleon

The whole "women in IT" thing reeks of "Torches of Freedom" campaign http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torches_of_Freedom In short: In 1929, tobacco industry was campaigning for the equal opportunity of getting lung cancer for women. Nowadays, IT industry is also campaigning for something which seems like equal opportunity for women. Now... what might that be? Are you sure you really want it?

jkameleon
jkameleon

It's still pretty patriarchal society, with less than stellar economy. As far as I know, there never was any organized attempt to get people in IT. I learned that from an engineer, recently emigrated from Serbia. She had no clue about the reasons for this gender balance, because she considered it normal, and never thought about it.

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

I've read that girls in an all-girl environment were more likely to be interested in (and perform better at) sciences. Is it because they do not feel like they have to compete against boys - Heaven forbid one is better at something than a male - or be perceived as "less feminine" if they are involved with nerdy stuff? Is there less judgment? There is certainly a male-female dynamic in the workplace, I'd think this might be a factor at earlier ages too. There seem to be MANY female IT workers and doctors from India (certainly at my current workplace), perhaps I am wrong but there may be something about the culture that encourages them to maximize their education in the sciences.

jkameleon
jkameleon

So, the first thing you have to ask yourselves in what way is "women in IT" propagandizing profitable. If I may speculate a bit: 1. More numerous workforce is always welcome, because it drives down wages. 2. Women are considered more manageable by older, rightwing managerial types 3. Demand in IT varies pretty wildly, and female workforce is considered more flexible (or rather expandable) by the abovementioned types. I came across an interesting blog about this, written by two female IT engineers. I can't find it anymore, unfortunately. The title was "When they need us" if you think you'll be more lucky at finding it. The authors are making parallels with the workforce situation in IT and WWII war industry in the USA. Men were at the front, and women were working in the factories. After the war was over, men returned to factories, and women went back to kitchen. Their rather reasonable guess is, that IT industry also needs a flexible part of workforce which can be parked into kitchen during the periods of low demand. 4. And, last but not least: Banks and college industry complex. More debt burdened overpriced tuition paying students are always welcome, male or female. -- IMHO, the "women in IT" propaganda also plays a part at the lack of women in IT. An industry, publically complaining about the lack of employees is the same thing as a supermarket chain bellyaching about the lack of buyers in general, and female buyers in particular. It's only normal to avoid such retailer like a plague.

NWwoman
NWwoman

Oh come on. When Bernays developed the PR campaign Torches of Freedom, there was no known health hazards to smoking. In fact, when I was young -- and I suspect I am much older than you -- that was not even part of the discussion. At the time that Bernays got the Torches concept, women were not allowed to smoke as it was not considered feminine. I even recall my first job -- a wall separated men and women in the large daily newspaper I worked at. On the female side of the wall, we had to wear dresses/skirts and not smoke while men on the opposite side of the half wall could smoke. Yes, we all shared the smoke in the room. So, please, try to understand historical events within the context of their time period. You are applying contemporary thought to a day long ago.

BigIve
BigIve

I feel this is a bit of a reach there - trying to encourage women to take up a new profession is not the same as selling them a potentially lethal product under the guise of empowerment. I do get the oxymoronic undertone that "you must do this to be a modern free-thinking woman" rather than trusting a person to make their own decisions. The premise here seems to be there are lower numbers of women in IT therefore we MUST have more women in IT - regardless of ability or desire to work in IT. Any qualified person who wants to work in IT, can work in IT. A quick read shows the survey to be fairly neutral but based on this we-must-redress-this-imbalance premise. Can we please just try to get the best people in IT - regardless of their gender?

jkameleon
jkameleon

The issue is selling stuff under the under the guise of empowerment.

jkameleon
jkameleon

> I do get the oxymoronic undertone that "you must do this to be a modern free-thinking woman" rather than trusting a person to make their own decisions. This is exactly what I was trying to say. Somebody is trying to sell something under the guise of empowerment. It might not be lethal, but still it isn't something profitable, something that people would normally buy, a career choice people would normally take.