IT Employment

Where are the women in IT consulting?

In Chip Camden's 20 years of consulting, he has only worked with one female consultant. He looked into whether his experience is unique in the IT industry. Find out what he learned.

In almost 20 years of consulting, I have had the pleasure (or misfortune) to work with a variety of people: business owners, C-levels, managers, developers, marketers, writers, testers, support people, and lawyers, to name a few. I have encountered a number of capable women occupying each of those positions. My occupation of IT consultant, however, noticeably lacks a female contingent. Of all the other consultants with whom I've worked, only one of them was female -- not counting friends here on TechRepublic and elsewhere on the web. Since I have not consciously selected against working with women, I have to wonder why that is the case. Does my experience mirror the industry, or is it just my bad luck?

Googling for numbers on this phenomenon didn't provide me with answers, but it did yield a number of potential contacts who I thought might be able to supply them. I sent messages out to all of them. The first response came from Women in Consulting (WIC), a San Francisco Bay area group dedicated to promoting the consulting businesses of their members. Avery Horzewski, President of WIC and CEO of AVE Consulting, granted me a telephone interview, which I'll summarize.

WIC is serendipitously compiling the results of a member survey, which the organization conducts annually. Because of the high percentage of women in its membership (ca. 90% - yes, they do have some male members), the group doesn't yield any statistically significant comparisons between men and women in the field. Interestingly, of the respondents who are in the top 20% for gross income, only 13% of those are women -- but again, the sample sizes are too small to be conclusive.

I suggested that perhaps some women find the lifestyle of the consultant prohibitive: the unpredictable income, long hours, lack of benefits, etc. Avery replied that, on the contrary, many women find the flexibility a draw -- especially for those who run their own businesses. She said that those women entrepreneurs can also command higher fees and respect in their clients' offices -- eliminating the so-called "glass ceiling" to some degree. So consulting may be a refuge of sorts from gender discrimination.

Ms. Horzewski told me that, anecdotally, she observes a recent rise in the number of female consultants -- but that perception may not hold true across all industries. More than half of all WIC members consult in marketing, where women might be accepted as more authoritative than they are in IT.

I contacted a well-known advocate for women in technology: author and good friend Shelley Powers. She wrote back to me with the following response:

College statistics document the fact that the number of women entering the IT field, at least those with a computer science degree, is declining. Significantly. Whether this impacts on the actual number working with computer technologies is more difficult to determine, because the computer science field is not the same as it once was.

Nowadays, computer science isn't dominated by button down, pasty white, geeky men with [an] engineering background, living in barren (or bizarre) cubicles, hacking away at computers 18 hours in a day. With the explosive growth in web and mobile computing, people working in "IT", if we want to still use this term, may actually come from a variety of backgrounds -- some not even remotely connected with either computer science or engineering. There are women in technology, though they may not enter the field with comp-sci degrees. There are fewer women in the field than men, true, but we do exist.

However, we do not _see_ the women in technology. As an example of lack of visibility for women, let's look at the HTML5 working group at the W3C. Women do participate in this effort, but seemingly without acknowledgment. For instance, there are several women involved in the accessibility task force for the group (among them, Laura Carlson, Cynthia Shelly, Judy Brewer, and Janina Sajka), yet when it comes to accessibility issues, the public _sees_ this effort as dominated by men. There are women involved with HTML5 video, such as the highly respected Silvia Pfeiffer, yet, again, men dominate the more visible discussions about this new capability.

Women actively participate, but their participation is frequently drowned out by the guys. The more contentious the issue, the less the women are heard.

I believe the same happens in other areas of technology: women get drowned out by the guys. Conferences have one women among 20 men; most articles and books seemingly are written by men (when in reality, a significant number of both are authored by women); men are quoted first, referred to first, given lead positions, or otherwise, allowed to dominate.

To demonstrate, let's again return to HTML5, and the organizations and companies, such as browser companies, most interested in this new technology.

The W3C, a seemingly egalitarian organization, has no women in its Technical Architecture Group (TAG), and only a few in its leadership positions. The WhatWG has no women in its invitation-only membership, and few women participate in the email lists. Apple has no women among its top administration and design positions. Opera's executive team has only one woman, and her position is in human resources. Only one woman, Jen Fitzpatrick, is listed as a key Google engineer, and only two women, Marissa Mayer and Stephanie Tilenius, are associated with a Google product. There are women involved with Internet Explorer, but the faces we see and voices we hear, most frequently, are male. Only Mozilla [of the major tech companies] has a woman, Mitchell Baker, in a position of highest authority.

So even if women are interested in the fields associated with IT, they're rarely seen or heard, and seldom acknowledged. Given this, it's not difficult to understand why women _who may be interested in web and mobile technologies_ are becoming less interested in IT as a profession.

This makes me wonder: have I really worked with more female consultants than I remember? My memory can be a bit unreliable at times (just ask my wife), but if I suffer from the "disappearing women" syndrome, then it would have to be a pretty bad case of it.

Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) responded with some interesting data. The organization compiled a report (PDF), "Women in IT: The Facts," (PDF) in which they note that only 25% of all IT jobs are filled by women. This percentage has been declining since 1991 from its high of 36%. And of the women who leave technology jobs, 22% of them become self-employed in their technical field.

Going independent is the most popular escape from the corporate work environment for women who decide to remain in their field, and not just in IT. Self-employment among women in general has been on the rise. Quoting Ms. Sanders:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2009 Current Population Survey says that about 8% of working women consider themselves self-employed, vs. 14% of men. The percentage of working women who were self-employed has been rising (from 4.4 percent in 1976 and 5.2 percent in 2008).

Although many women become self-employed, they also appear to leave self-employment sooner. I spoke with Kelly Harman, President-elect of Women In Technology (WIT) (I was pleased to learn that she is a TechRepublic member). Ms. Harman opined that women more than men fall into the trap of starting at too low a rate (because they enter consulting motivated more by the freedom and flexibility it offers than by the monetary gain), and that they often don't feel able to demand more when they realize it isn't enough. As a result, they become overworked and underpaid and eventually decide to do something else.

WIT's motto is "from the classroom to the boardroom." They focus on training young women to overcome their socialization where it hurts them, and leverage it where it helps. That means learning to respectfully demand attention to overcome the "disappearing woman" syndrome. It also means using a woman's ability to build consensus and insure that everyone's concerns are heard. Those skills are especially important for consultants, who often bear a great deal of responsibility for the outcome without having the authority to command participants to act.

Some readers are probably thinking, "why worry about it?" We independent consultants have plenty of problems without fostering more competition. Besides egalitarian idealism, why should we care about women in consulting?

When it comes to idealism, I've never been much of a champion for equal rights. However, I strongly believe in equal liberties. Thus, even though I don't advocate creating artificial constraints to impose equality, I am dead set against any impediment to the free exercise of any vocation that an individual may choose. The best candidate should get the work. That works out better for everyone -- even the person who got bumped. They'll improve their skills or move on to something they can do better.

It's not just about competition, though. WIC's motto is "foster collaboration, not competition." Although the "lone wolf" may be the typical personality who is drawn to consulting, we can all do much more when we work together. We benefit from having a network of associates on whom we can lean when our abilities don't cover the whole gamut of what's needed. Not to stereotype, but women can bring a different perspective and set of strengths to the table, whether those differences come from nature or nurture. To alienate women from this industry would be far worse than to exclude anyone who prefers Microsoft products.

If you're a woman who is interested in getting into IT consulting, read this TechRepublic article by Susan Harkins, "Consultant encourages other women in IT to explore their options."

About

Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...

120 comments
jsimpson121
jsimpson121

Check out www.haygroup.com. Hay Group is a global management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality.

helen.morris
helen.morris

I'm here - I've been in IT for 25+ years, and by choice, have had only 5 yrs in a permie role - the rest as a contractor, and for the last 6 yrs, a consultant. (Love the distinction, increased my day rate considerably, by the way.) I co-founded a training company (specialising in ITIL / ISO 20K) with a female colleague 3 years ago. We are both consultants in our field of expertise - IT Service Management. My personal experience - in the workplace, women in IT have in the past been overlooked - their peculiar need to go home at a reasonable time to have a life (which may or may not include children), their reluctance to do things for the 'show' and 'visibility factor' for the bosses, because they are just good and feel that should be recognised, without a 'song and dance routine' all combine to make them less 'obvious' than their male colleagues. I personally headbutted the 'glass ceiling' a number of times in the early years. Now I have no problem - I am an expert in my field, I'm good at what I do, and I am consistently in work without having to advertise. Is this because over the years I just got tougher, and made sure I was noticed through doing a good job, instead of playing the political games, yes, I think it was. So where are my fellow females? Some don't want the hassle of being 'out there' - some as others have pointed out, have simply not gained the necessary experience, because of 'gender biais' but mostly I think we have yet to see the latest generation of women coming into their own. Consultancy needs experience, and a breadth of experience at that - give the next generation time, and they will come through. I'm in my 40s, gradually more of us will appear - but those of us with families and lives will want to make sure that comes first. The demographics are changing, and a new generation of women consultants are being challenged by combining work and family later in life. So watch this space, those clever capable women are on their way - they gained the experience through university & work through their 20s and early 30s, now they're enjoying the benefits of family life in their mid 30s and when they reach a point where families are less dependent on their time, they will be back in play. As for me - well, I'm used to the male dominated workplace, and am happy to be in there as a minority representative. Next step - retirement. And by the way, I have been the major / sole wage earner for our family (me, husband, 4 kids, soon to be 7 grandkids) for the last 10 years. So the role reversal has been done, and has been successful in our case. I'm waiting for the next generation to carry it all on :-)

alejandra.moreno
alejandra.moreno

...so I am a Director for an IT Consulting company, with 20+ years of experience and even in my company, there are only 4 ladies from a team of 30+ (very discouraging ~12%): one network engineer, 2 service desk operators and myself. My perspective is that girls are as well equiped as boys for any IT related career, I do believe that it is a matter of informing and motivating. Girls could have an inclination for IT careers, if they are exposed to the options early on. As a teenager, I wanted to be a chemical engineer, however a book on symbolic logic happened to fall into my hands during my first year of college and I was hooked on IT. After years of programming, doing business analysis, web development and others, I ended up in the infrastructure field, operating and managing operating systems which is what I have consulted in for the past 12 years. I have a daughter that was always very math inclined, so much that during high school magnet program in IB (International Baccalaurate) she aced AP Calculus as a sophmore and went on to pursue the Higher Math track, founding an IT Girls club and earning a Silver Knight Award (those not familiar with the Miami Herald's famous awards, look it up) in the area of ... mathematics! I work with a team of very dedicated ladies in South Florida (IT Women: www.itwomen.org) that have developed specific programs to ?encourage young women in middle school and high school to enter the fields of Technology and Engineering" non-traditional professions for women.

lfischer1
lfischer1

For 23 years I have been a Pittsburgh, PA based independent telecommunications consultant. With VoIP leading the charge, we ladies in telecommunications are working more closely with Chief Technology Officers; almost exclusively male. My firm, McKinley Group, Ltd. is working closely with a number of manufacturers (99% male) to find solutions to migrate legacy systems. Women are interested in the fields associated with traditional IT; however, more intrigued with web and mobile technologies not as independent consultants, but as "channel partner" reps._ Linda Fischer

Spiritusindomit
Spiritusindomit

I read on forbes that female owned business is outpacing any other sector in terms of overall growth by 33%

*Spuddy*
*Spuddy*

Or getting their certs first before launching a forth to the world with a great steak and chips.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

I have also seen women *nudged* to different positions in the guise of a promotion and have been a *victim* to it. I was often told I would *fit in well* with the marketing team when I applied within a company for a spot on the IT team - mind you I have 20yrs experience in computing and zero in marketing. I have seen and knew several *unattractive* but highly skilled women given no choice but to move on to another company or a different job when promotions were declined while seeing more *attractive* but less skilled women climb the ranks within the very same IT dept. We are here, it just depends on the company and the environment where equal skills are involved. Women have to work harder in the hunting.

john.mayo
john.mayo

I've been out of consulting for 10 years, but I had the pleasure of consulting with a wonderful healthcare consultant, named Barbara (from Buffalo, NY/Plano, TX). There's great opportunity for women, especially if they have industry experience.

AV .
AV .

It always has been and hasn't changed. I've been in IT for 25 years as a female Net Admin and I'm disappointed that the field hasn't been more accommodating to women. I'd like to semi-retire as a consultant, but I know that my being a woman is going to be a liability no matter what credentials I have. I'm really disappointed. AV

jkameleon
jkameleon

"Non-issue" is far too flattering term for this "women in IT" stuff. "Quasi-issue", or better yet "fraudulent issue" would be far better. The goal of the original "Torches of Freedom" campaign was to win the equal opportunity of getting lung cancer for women: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torches_of_Freedom Its IT equivalent wants women to have equal opportunity of losing their jobs to outsourcing. It's all about profits, all about getting enough warm bodies into IT to drive the salaries down, by any means necessary. http://www.euractiv.com/en/infosociety/high-ICT-salaries-hamper-eu-digital-market-news-493719 http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:7uhIxaC9U7wJ:www.euractiv.com/en/infosociety/high-ICT-salaries-hamper-eu-digital-market-news-493719+http://www.euractiv.com/en/infosociety/high-ICT-salaries-hamper-eu-digital-market-news-493719&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Not better, but louder. It's a problem with the world in general. I'm very loud myself. Luckily my wife knows where to kick me to change my tune... and pitch too. For the world at large I don't know how to fix it, but it's obviously costing the world a lot in the form of excess waste and needless failures. We need women to balance out inherent male dumbness, not to mention to provide their own valuable insights.

bergenfx
bergenfx

In Boston, I think ... although I have heard that there is one in Dubuque.

DSCtsuru
DSCtsuru

You missed a Series of Articles about how 65% of all Post-Graduate Schools (Med, Vet, Pharm, Dental, Optometry, Graduate, etc) are women and projected to go above 75% by 2015. It may not matter whether Women are in IT! They'll hire Men to do that job for them.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Your career belongs to the Big Money.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Would seem to be as you put them here: resignation. Where the hell is your chutzpah?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I've seen you post something dumber than that, but only once :p

Justin James
Justin James

I've had that theory myself. When I wrote a similar article a few months ago, I heard the exact same list of reasons... "women are ignored" or "women are shut out". I don't know *anyone* who I think would deliberately ignore someone based on gender. But what I *have* seen time and time again, is that some men, when grouped together, form a very loud and impenetrable mass. Like get 10 engineers in a room, and 3 of them will "geek out" and make it impossible for anyone else to participate. I suspect what really happens here is not that women are "ignored", it's that *everyone* outside of that mob is ignored, and women are almost always on the outside of it due to their lack of numbers. J.Ja

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... that the results of a research project indicated that testosterone inhibits cerebral function in men -- but it doesn't affect women that way. Excess testosterone in women just makes them more sexually interested. If there is a God, she has a sick sense of humor.

AV .
AV .

The deeper the pockets, the better the technology. Big Money can buy lots of technology, but it means nothing without qualified people to run it, men and women. AV

AV .
AV .

Thats the only way I survived for 25 years in IT. Network administration is a tough job, and now I'm an older woman, maybe not as marketable as I once was in that capacity. I don't look old and I don't feel old, but I think network administration is more for someone younger and you definitely have a better chance either way if you're a guy. I need to find a new niche and of course, it will be IT oriented, but something that will be more open to me and less demanding at this time in my life. AV

OurITLady
OurITLady

I've been in the field almost as long (15 years), have never found the field particularly accommodating to either gender - long hours, frequent weekend work and unpaid overtime, high stress, etc in many positions doesn't sound especially good for anyone. It's not so much a job as a calling or a way of life..........

jkameleon
jkameleon

It's the the story of a woman, forced into IT study against her will, only to fall victim to the student loan sharks. I agree with her about education being a racket, which destroys entire generations. http://studentloanjustice.org/Pennsylvania.htm , scroll down to "Jacqueline" It all began when I was left disabled at age 24 back in 1991 when I was hit by an uninsured driver who was "judgment proof". Prior to that, I had just started out in a high paying union skilled construction trades job (I was the only woman in the plasterers & painters union then). The accident left me with permanent problems with both knees and my back where I cannot stand for any length of time or bend over repetitively or lift. That ruled out waitressing, Wal-Mart greeter, and even McDonalds jobs. I filed for social security disability but was denied because I was "too young" (I was 24 back in 1991)and didn't have enough working year credits paid into the social security system. Because I wasn't a crack addict, an alcoholic or a single mother, I didn't qualify for any help at all from welfare either, even though I had no money, no income and no way of being able to earn a living and had health problems. I was sent by the social security bureaucrats to s! ee someone at PA OVR, the state agency that is SUPPOSED to help the disabled get re-trained and get placed in new careers - which ended up being a real joke. I met with the intake caseworker at the local Allentown PA OVR office and had a skills assessment done. I had been pushed through the public school system. I was in special ed since 7th grade all the way through high school for having learning problems (I have a learning disability - dyslexia)and thus did not have the academic capabilities beyond the 4th grade level even though I was a high school grad. Yet, these clowns at OVR told me I needed to "just go to college to learn something else to be marketable and have a new career". When I asked them to please look at my high school records, told them that I am learning-disabled and if I couldn't grasp basic math - never mind algebra and trig - in junior high and high school, how the hell could they expect me to "just go to college" - especially when I had no money, when I was eating in soup kitchens as a poor disabled woman with no family support network? The response I got was: " You can't use your learning-disability as a crutch. It just means it will take you a little longer. Now, if you do what we tell you to do and get a degree in computer science, we will help you. We will place you in another good job that as a disabled person you CAN do. But you have to make the effort and try hard enough. There's no free ride for excuse-making slackers. If you fail it will be your own fault that you're poor for not trying hard enough." Well, I DID try. I tried a hell of a lot harder and for a lot longer when most others in my boat would have tossed in the towel. I started out having to go get literacy help first. Then I had to go to community college for remedial level classes for the material I couldn't grasp in 7th through 12th grades and struggled to get through them successfully - often having to put in 8-12 hours into my homework because having a learning disability means you just can't grasp things as quickly and absorb as much at a time as everybody else. Of course, this meant I couldn't even work in a part-time telemarketing job while going to the community college. Since I was in my mid-20's and wasn't a high school merit scholar or football player, I couldn't get any scholarships. Thanks to the Gramm-Rudmann Bill passed before I was old enough to vote (remember, I'm a Gen-Xer and it was my parents' generation, the Baby Boomers, also known as the "Me Generation", who made sure after years of getting to have theirs that everyone else coming up after them wouldn't have any chances to get ours), Pell Grants were decimated to a minimum and many non-college type schools that might have been a better fit for someone like me were no longer Pell eligible. So as a poor disabled woman, I had to take out student loans to help meet my education related expenses. Having to start out behind the 8-ball due to the learning-disability problem, it took me 5 years to make it through a 2-year community college starting out with remedial classes and finally graduating with a regular college course curriculum under my belt with an A.A. degree. As a dyslexic and an older learner, I felt that the math and computer classes were really too hard for me. I had an easier time in my creative writing and criminal justice classes. I told the OVR caseworker who was monitoring my progress that I really felt I should be going for a degree in pre-law and then on to law school because of the difficulties I was having getting through math and computer classes (which are a nightmare for any dyslexic). I told the caseworker how I was being denied the accommodations of extended time for taking tests by the professors - even though this caseworker said that under the A.D.A., I was entitled to this very reasonable accommodation. I endured ridicule from the younger non-learning-disabled students (smart enough to get into college straight from their college-prep high school classes but not smart enough to refrain from making fun of people with disabilities and problems, go figure!) Of course, the OVR worker's response to my concerns was "You just have a negative attitude. It's your negative attitude that will let you fail. you just have to keep trying. No, law school is not an option for you. The job market need is for IT people, not lawyers. Either you do this OVR's way or you will not get any help with job placement from OVR." Being a poor disabled woman with nothing at the state's mercy, I forged onward to transfer my A.A. degree to Kutztown State University to complete my B.A. in math/computer science - just like I was told to by the OVR "experts". I transferred my community college degree credits to go forward towards getting my bachelors beginning in August, 1997. I was 30 years old by then and already out of the workforce for 6 years since my accident. Since not all of my A.A. degree credits were accepted for transfer, I had to go to school an additional 3 years instead of 2, which would put me another year behind the 8-ball of not being able to re-enter the job market. My entire time at the university was fraught with professors treating me like crap because of having a learning disability they didn't feel they should have to accommodate and ridicule and bad treatment from the younger, smarter, faster learners I felt out of place among in all my classes when I had to ask questions they thought were dumb - and they let me know it, too. Of course, I was closer to the top in my classes (except for C++ which I failed twice due to my dyslexia so I substituted that for a course in Visual Basic, which I aced)so I was managing to keep up with the best of them. Then, in my junior year in 1999 when I needed to take Advanced Calc I (it was a prerequisite for other classes I needed to graduate), the school canceled the class for lack of enrollment. Since less than 10 students enrolled in the class, the math department arbitrarily canceled the course for a whole year, which put me behind schedule for graduating yet another year. Then the same thing happened with Abstract Algebra II in 2000, which was also required in order for me to graduate. This put me a total of 2+ years behind schedule for graduating. I looked into taking those courses at another school, but because I would not be matriculating (graduating) from the other schools that DID offer these two courses, I would have had to come up with over $2000 out of my own pocket instead of getting financial aid to pay for these courses I needed to graduate. I had no way of coming up with $2000 on my own to pay for these two courses at Muhlenberg College so as to keep my Kutztown University graduation date only one year instead of two, behind schedule. My only other alternative was to get the professors who respectively taught those 2 classes to teach the material to me on an I.I. (Independent Instruction) basis. The one professor was the math department chair, Mr. Bateman. I approached him about teaching me Abstract Algebra II and explained, very concisely and thoroughly, the urgency of my situation being 100% reliant on student aid for my education, for my degree that was supposed to be my ticket back into the workforce. His response, sent to me by email (which I still have a copy printed out in my personal records file) basically stated that because I wasn't a gifted student able to maintain straight A's due to my having a leaning disability, I wasn't academically "worthy" of his time to teach me this required course on an I.I. basis. I finally did get to graduate at age 35 on May 19th, 2001 with $38,000 in student loan debt from Sallie Mae, PHEAA and William D. Ford Direct loan programs combined - 2 yrs after I should have been able to graduate and re-enter the workforce. I was out of the workforce for exactly a decade at that time, having to compete at age 35 against 23 year yr old non-handicapped kids with no experience in the same field I struggled and fought so hard to get my degree in for jobs that, to my dismay, were being off-shored faster than I can type on my keyboard. With my $38,000 in college loans in deferment, I wasted no time in sending out resumes, attending job fairs and when I met with my OVR caseworker, he presented me with clipped out classified job adds that were over a week old and told me to check up on and apply for those jobs. This was the "help" with job placement OVR was going to give me - after suffering through 10+ years with no medical & dental care, no resources, no ability to earn a living, struggling to get a college degree in what THEY told me to get as a condition of getting helped with job placement! I finally managed to get hired as a stockbroker (which is a commissions-only paying high-stress job with no health, unemployment, workers comp or retirement benefits) by a brokerage firm in 7/2001. But a few months later, the 9/11 attacks messed that career opportunity up for me, so once again, I was left unable to earn a living and was facing very bleak prospects of getting any kind of "real" job because of the age discrimination I am up against in the job market being that I am now middle-aged and no longer a skinny young piece of "eye candy". I am now going on 40. I never did get any chances at all for a job in that field, not did I get any chances for any other white-collar entry-level professional type job paying a living wage with health benefits so that I could support myself, get the health and dental care I desperately need that I had been without for over 15 years of my life, and repay the $38,000 in student loan debt I was on the hook for - all for trying to do "all the right things" and do what I was told by the "experts". Since you are only allowed a maximum of 36 months of deferments for unemployment/economic hardship, whether or not you are able to get a job that pays enough to meet your basic needs plus make the student loan repayment schedule, my loans went into default after 4 ? years of enduring a fruitless job hunt which yielded me nothing. My credit is destroyed and I'll never be able to recoup. I have no savings for my own old age, and no healthcare - but I can't get Medicaid either because I don't have any kids. No one will give me a chance for any kind of good job that pays a living wage with health benefits and a stable paycheck (salary instead of commissions-only) because I am middle-aged, have been without a job since 2001, and despite making super human efforts to get another job after 9/11 I now have ruined credit because my student loans went into default when I couldn't begin repaying them because of not getting any chances for jobs so employers hold that against me, too. A year ago, the William D. Ford Direct Loan Dept of the US Dept of Ed offered me the option to consolidate all my student loans so I could go on an income-contingent repayment plan. But any unpaid interest (mine is locked in at 8%)was capitalized so now my student loan debt is at $54,000 and growing because I simply don't have the opportunity to earn enough money to meet my basic needs and repay them. And being older, I know I'll never get any chance for a good job so I can make it thanks to off-shoring and age discrimination ensuring that too many people like me who have been economically left out get kept left out, poor and screwed over. I can't qualify for any funds under the WIA (Workforce Investment Act) through the local unemployment office to pick up anymore training w/ job placement in anything else like the medical field, although I am cynical that it would help me be anymore employable than I was at age 35 five years ago when I graduated with my "marketable degree" because if nobody would give me a chance and hire me then when I was 35, my chances certainly aren't going to be improved the older I get and I am now going on 40. The only "job opportunities" that have been made available to me are commissions-only type sales jobs so I scrape by on food stamps, selling insurance, with no help for medical and dental care and not enough income to keep my utilities from being shut off. There is no way I can afford to repay my student loans. But ending up in this boat with defaulted student loans wasn't my idea when I got injured 16 years ago and was told by all the "experts" to "just go to college and learn something else" when they promised job placement and help. That OVR caseworker and others like him continue to get their decent paychecks, their health and dental benefits, their paid vacation and retirement accounts with scheduled raises - whether or not their "guidelines and advice and job placement programs" results in people like me having our lives go further down the toilet, with no hope for anything better than dying young from lack of access to healthcare, stress from poverty and ending up out on the streets or living in our cars, and our own eventual meager social security checks garnished for student loan debt that we couldn't repay because we couldn't get any good jobs. In sum, the banks, the corporations who have lied to us and kept us jumping through more and more hoops to be "worthy" of jobs that they continued to off-shore or otherwise take away from us, the state employment and disability agency caseworkers, the self-centered tenured and coddled state university professors in the higher education racket, and the politicians in bed with all of these cretins ought to be held accountable for destroying entire generations in this country. Anyone in favor of re-introducing the guillotine and storming the Ivory Towers like the Bastille? You may contact me about this, publish my story and quote me verbatim. I am available and willing to testify in front of a congressional committee on this matter.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Ever listen to someone talk about something with a different set of presumptions than you have? When that happens one's mind usually goes "Huh?!? HU-HUH?!?!!!", and from that usually follows a tuning out of the offending stimulus. That's what also happens when people are divided by an "invisible language barrier", where there's a definite difference in how things are talked about. Mind you, both can be perfectly correct ways to say it, in fact, they can have very strong but initially incompatible merits. Sometimes the fact that some speech is gendered goes unnoticed, and without the specific cue to go into a more flexible reception mode to see what the other person could be trying to say (like, for dealing with foreigners a strong accent is a cue like that), the result is a rejection. It patterns like this: A: Blablabla E: Dood, Blablabla! A: LOL Blablabla B: Lablablab! A: ... E: ... A:*twitch* E: So, anyway.... For that example vowels are gender 1, consonants are gender 2 See, that's not an attitude of "Wimmin is dum!" or "I don wanna lissen to wimmin". But it's still something that is destructive to communication, and something that can be fixed.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

that it would certainly make us need to shave more too ;)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

But if we recall that a biological male is just a rewired female (the original design), then perhaps the hormonal fuels having strange effects is to be expected...

AV .
AV .

Its a very free, exciting time and even though I still work full time as a network administrator, I know its time for a change for me. I just don't know what, but thanks for your thoughts. Much appreciataed. AV

santeewelding
santeewelding

Is what finds me here more than time swinging a 12-pound sledge at the anvil. This is easier. Takes chutzpah, though. I don't doubt you have it. It's why you're here, too. Probably just a low moment on your part. You and I, at our age, we have to be careful about those unenthusiastic moments. What I extended was my hand. ______ indentation

jacobus57
jacobus57

...to work in male-dominated professions. I am a professional (or was, until it wasn't fun anymore!) bicycle mechanic, designing and building frames and working on high-end bikes. I was offered a position as the mechanic to the US women's team, but couldn't travel at that time because I had a young daughter. I was an architectural model builder. I have been in IT, off and on, for twenty four years and am now a consultant. I love working in non-traditional fields, and--maybe because I am tall and strong and know my poo no matter what I do--have seldom encountered sexism in the workplace. I also don't go looking for it (asbestos suit on--like some women I know...), and allow my work to speak for itself. That said, IT can be a bloody miserable field, and it is very hard to set boundaries and maintain personal time. As a consultant I find it easier, because I can let calls go to voicemail without having a team lead on my neck, asking me why I didn't answer the phone at 3-#%*@*-a.m. (of course no mention of the fact I didn't timecard pad, steal parts, or all the times--like always--that I DID answer the phone...). Would I rather be raising alpaca or be building my little wooden boat? Yeah, but for the time being, IT puts kibble in the bowl, so I'll stay with it ;-)

jkameleon
jkameleon

- State universities held monopoly for over the 50 years. At the end, they incurred such an ill reputation, that people started to keep their PhDs and master degrees from their resumes. - Buerocratic obstacles for people, who wanted their university degree recognized in other EU country and vice versa were simply ridiculous. - Tuition free state universities were retained, only the program changed. People are free to choose between payable private, and free state universities. Tuitions are affordable, somewhere around 2000-4000 Euros/year. > Otherwise, why is making european universities prepare to compete with the US universities, including tuition fees and others... I find EU's faithful emulation of each & every American mistake hardly surprising, if that's what you had in mind. Both, American and European elites pursue the same interests, and consequently follow the same logic. Domel, for example, even considers movig production to China a fucking milestone (at the bottom of the page) http://www.domel.com/en/company

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's a big fat trojan! Otherwise, why is making european universities prepare to compete with the US universities, including tuition fees and others... Read with those shortage shouting glasses of yours, you'll find something.

jkameleon
jkameleon

I'm vaguely familiar with Bologna Process, because I have 2 kids in college. I never bothered to learn more about it than necessary. As far as I can tell, there's nothing wrong with it. Before Bologna Process, state universities had monopoly over high education. This is the reason why there never was mentionable opposition to it.

jkameleon
jkameleon

I don't know how big the student bubble loan is compared to housing bubble, but it definitely is there, it's not negligible, and every effort is made to perpetuate its growth. Speaking of collapse... all these loans, bonds, derivatives, mortgage tranches... that's only money, which can easily be inflated into oblivion. It's nukes I'm worried about. ICBMs and social collapse can be pretty explosive combination http://www.brightstarsound.com/

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

But hey, if you want to read something to really put your hairs on end... check out the Bologna Process, unless you know it already, which you may, if you're in Slovenia.

jkameleon
jkameleon

> Meanwhile, the topic is still valid; if it's all just "warm bodies" then why should the few women in there specifically be targeted for blame? Nobody is blaming the women. As I've said, there are no men and no women here. There are just different segments of the population, targeted by different PR. Tobacco industry of old thought it could sell more cigarettes to the female segment of population, and so they hired Bernays who pulled his famous "Torches of Freedom" stunt. My guess is, that IT Education industry, student loan sharks, or whoever commisioned the "Women in IT" campaign, act according to similar logic. > For people caught in loan traps; there's always the boot. Put it on, start hiking. Leave the country. There's always a way out that the overlords don't expect, and it's never suicide. According to that stories, some of them left the country, some of them commited suicide, and most of them are contemplating it.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Yes, this corner of unfunded liabilities has its own corner of credibility -- she with her narrow concerns. Compare, though, it to the whole...the whole (in this USofA) federal, state, and municipal bond funds, not to mention housing mortgage "tranches" sold into yet-to-be sorted "derivatives", private equity, public pension funding and its problems...she is a pipsqueak caught up in the whole of an impending collapse.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Meanwhile, the topic is still valid; if it's all just "warm bodies" then why should the few women in there specifically be targeted for blame? For people caught in loan traps; there's always the boot. Put it on, start hiking. Leave the country. There's always a way out that the overlords don't expect, and it's never suicide.

jkameleon
jkameleon

This is a good place to start http://studentloanjustice.org/problem.htm In short: In 1997, bankrupcy protection was removed for student loans. There is no way to get rid of them now. In order to survive, student debt slaves have to eat, pay rent, and so they need a job, any job they can find. And, when they found one, their salaries are garnished, typically for about $300 to $600. Quite a sum for someone earning $20000 per year flipping burgers. Not just salaries, everything can be garnished, even disability benefits. As I browsed the stories, I came across people 50, 60, 70, even 80 years old, still burdened with student debts, perpetually inflated by compound interest. Most of the older debt slaves got trapped by cosigning their children's student loans.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

how do they pay late fees? Sounds like there's no way in hell anyone will get a job doing anything at all. Or what, pray tell, is where all the real jobs are... ones it pays to educate oneself for? Or aren't there any?

jkameleon
jkameleon

There's no men, and no women here, there are just "segments of the population". Each segment of the population is targeted by different PR, and that's the only difference there is. The only thing that matters is the number of warm bodies who take out student loans, and pay tuitions and interest. Male, female, hemaphrodyte... doesn't matter. Never mind if there's no chance in hell they'll ever get a job in the field they've studied for. Late fees is the best investment there is.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Why should women keep out of IT, and not men? Or is that a kick below the belt?

jkameleon
jkameleon

... I am in Slovenia, maybe not. Maybe I am male, or maybe not. That's entirely beside the point. I suspected, that student loan bubble could be one of the motives behind talent shortage & women in IT shouting, and decided to google something about it. That student debt horror story repository was one of the 1st sites I've find. The more pieces I put together, the uglier the whole picture looks. I used to think it's just IT industry and universities, but now it looks like pushing people through college into dead end careers (not just IT) and debt slavery is very profitable business. There are many parties interested in doing this: - Industry. A little talent glut never hurt anybody except talent. - Universities for obvious reasons. - Big banks & collection agencies for obvious reasons. - Politics sweeps unemployed people under the rug by sending them to school. Dealing with the underlying causes of the unemployment can be postponed this way. Besides, they can always say "Stop bellyaching about being unemployed, it's your fault, because you are not adapting to the job market by keeping your skills current, and educating yourself. There are millions of high paid jobs going vacant, because of severe shortage of skilled professionals. Now take that usurious student loan, go to school, and STFU already!"

santeewelding
santeewelding

You are not in Slovenia and you are not male.

jkameleon
jkameleon

... while "Lack of women in IT", and other similar phony issues served by IT trade magazines, explain nothing. Or even less than nothing, when they are utilized to obscure the real issues. So, no matter how superstitious it might sound, I'll stick with "Fuck the blood (and X chromosome count), and follow the money."

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

But that sounds a bit like someone trying to explain everything that goes wrong everywhere with Climate Change, including oil spills, earthquakes and depressions. There are other issues in the world.

jkameleon
jkameleon

Shortage shouting, overt or covert is just a part of this game. If you think this point of view is paranoid (and you don't work in education), you do so at your own detriment. > You may have noticed that I'm not for shortage shouting, not on account of wage preservations but on account of the misery awaiting the people who are then forced into these non-existent fields. Whatever. Cause of wage dumping, studying into talent glut or a field in decline is the same: Shortage shouting. PR, perpetrated by industry & universities aiming to increase their tuition income. > But I am also in favor of shoring up the world economy by having women be involved in the leadership and execution of more things. Duping anyone, including women, into study for low or negative ROI careers is unfair to say the least, and certainly not the way of shoring the economy. Study is a huge investment of money, time, and effort, the biggest investment most people make in their entire life. People studying for something unproductive is the worst kind of malinvestment. The best way of shoring the economy is to let the market run its course. Young people, who are chosing their careers, should know best how are they going to invest the best years of their life. Nobody and nothing else should have any say in it. > They are, I believe, a better guard against the never ending bubble and crash motif than any legislation. Ever heard of a student loan bubble?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

But then, maybe you've surrendered in spirit, and locked yourself in the fallout shelter? I don't think that treating women in IT with respect (Chad's point was that they're already there, but nobody hears about them), is going to cause a huge flood of lemming-women into IT... (I know, Lemmings don't actually do that) as, fortunately women are a good deal smarter than that. Seeing everything at all as a shortage shouting campaign makes you seem paranoid, and that's not to your benefit. You may have noticed that I'm not for shortage shouting, not on account of wage preservations but on account of the misery awaiting the people who are then forced into these non-existent fields. But I am also in favor of shoring up the world economy by having women be involved in the leadership and execution of more things. They are, I believe, a better guard against the never ending bubble and crash motif than any legislation. Not because they're wiser, but because they don't make the same mistakes men do. So, there's a chance that bad things will get averted more.

jkameleon
jkameleon

> When your stance corresponds to "let us poor rich old white men keep our perks, we cheated hard to get them!" then it starts sounding a little sad. It's not just rich old white men, but also rich young black women, and all the rich combinations in between. Everybody wants to keep his/hers/its(coporations are also persons, or so I heard) perks. It's all about perks & profits. Yes, it is sad, but it's not my fault, I swear! > You can't shout "shortage shouting" or "wage dumping" about letting people pursue their careers free of obstruction. This is exactly the purpose of "Women in IT" campaign- to silence the nasty old grumblers like me: "Let the women waste their money on cigarettes, and get their lung cancer free of obstruction, you male chauvinist pig!" Or: "Let the women pursue dead-end careers free of obstruction, you male chauvinist pig!" Around 2008 (give or take a year), "classic" shortage shouting was thoroughly discredited. Every shortage shouting article in every online media invited a torrent of irritated comments. My guess is, that PR folks then opened their books of ol'tricks, and came up with "Women it IT". It's a very clever mimicry, they masked one issue with another. The implicit assumption of the "Women in IT" campaign is that IT career is worth pursuing. Nobody questions that anymore. Everybody is blabbering about the differences between men and women instead. > No corporation is going on a huge woman-hiring campaign to drive down the salaries of men. It's not hiring campaign, but education campaign. They want to educate as many people as possible to drive down the wages. It's the interest of both the IT industry, and education industry. Rather typical response to such claims is "awww, c'mon, spare me that dumb theories of yours". This is the reason I've posted that link before, the one about Anthony Whelan's rather blunt statements. > But if they did have more women working for them, then outsourcing might not even be so attractive to them OK, let me get this straight. The problem is, that career which involves competing with North Koreans in who's gonna work for less isn't attractive to anybody but North Koreans. And, supposedly, women. Ummm... don't you think this is kinda chauvinistic? Oh, and if you think I'm kidding about North Korea, google "kcc pyongyang".

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

When your stance corresponds to "let us poor rich old white men keep our perks, we cheated hard to get them!" then it starts sounding a little sad. You can't shout "shortage shouting" or "wage dumping" about letting people pursue their careers free of obstruction. No corporation is going on a huge woman-hiring campaign to drive down the salaries of men. But if they did have more women working for them, then outsourcing might not even be so attractive to them.

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