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In Higher Education, Fewer Women Graduate To CIO

Plenty of women hold leadership positions in higher education technology departments. So why is the percentage of females in the CIO seat declining?

 8 MOOCs Transforming Education
8 MOOCs Transforming Education
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Over the course of my research at the Center for Higher Education CIO Studies, the percentage of women chief information officers (CIOs) in higher ed has been on a slow but steady decline. In the past, information from research on CIOs and tech leaders (TL) indicated that trend would continue. Tech leaders are people who serve in the next organizational layer down from the CIO.

From 2008 to 2013, the percentage of female CIOs declined five percent, from 26% to 21%. There could be any number of reasons why the percentage of female CIOs declined.

One reason might be a finding from the TL research that showed a consistently smaller percentage of female TLs who are interested in becoming CIOs than their male counterparts. In addition, female CIOs were retiring faster than male CIOs. Another reason could be the widely reported gender disparity in degree-major technology disciplines. And it could be the fact that female TLs and CIOs were retiring sooner than the male TLs and CIOs.

Despite this list of bad news for gender parity in the higher education CIO ranks, there might be positive change on the horizon.

[ In the battle for tech talent, small colleges and universities have a lot to offer. Learn Why Young IT Pros Should Consider Higher Ed. ]

The TL population is the supply pipeline for the higher-education CIO position. The graph below depicts four pieces of information: the percentage of female TLs, the percentage of female CIOs, the percentage of female CIOs planning to retire in the next 10 years, and the percentage of female TLs interested in becoming a CIO.

Female Tech Leaders' Career Plans
Female Tech Leaders' Career Plans

The percentage of TLs who are women has risen over the past five years from 33% to 40%. The percentage of female TLs who are interested in becoming a CIO, while low at 29% in 2013, has remained steady over the past three years. Another piece of good news is that the percentage of female CIOs who are planning on retirement in the next 10 years declined to a new low of 47% in 2013, and is no longer higher than their male counterparts. Despite these changes, the percentage of CIOs who are women continued to decline.

I took a deeper dive into the data in an attempt to determine if there were differences between the male and female TLs that are driving down the percentage of CIOs who are women. The CIOs and TLs in this research indicated that the two best ways to prepare for a CIO position were: using a mentor and on-the-job training (OJT).

Tech Leader Mentors
Tech Leader Mentors

There were some differences in gender for mentoring. Most notably, 45% of the male TLs used their own CIO as a mentor versus 34% of the female TLs. This significant difference in mentoring with a supervisor (CIO) may have an impact on the female TLs' opportunities and growth. Forty-one percent of the male TLs said no one was helping them, versus 32% of the female TLs. This will be a challenge for the male TLs as they try to prepare for the CIO role. The female TLs had higher percentages in every other mentoring category except "my peers," where there was an equal percentage of male and female TLs.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/13/2014 | 7:17:43 AM
Women accquire postion in the technology department
It is true that education is the most important part for women student, in this moderen world where education is becoming the part of life, women are encouraging in the higher education and taking postiong lead in the technology department, whereas degree is concern the main source for any student life, however to submit any degree it is require dissertation writing for the submission of degree. 
User Rank: Apprentice
9/6/2014 | 6:46:49 AM

I have to study a different way. It usually doesn't matter too much to me because I know I'll pull off a good grade in the class and work my way back up because I always do.

Eliza Bilbie
Eliza Bilbie,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2014 | 12:45:06 AM
Re: Women should acquire higher education
Higher education is necessary for women as for men because if men died or was unable to work than women can do the work.|Dissertation writing uk||Dissertation Proposal in UK|
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 6:24:22 AM
Women should acquire higher education
Education is for all women should acquire higher education to become powerful.

Buy dissertation online at Done Dissertation
User Rank: Apprentice
6/21/2013 | 5:50:07 PM
re: In Higher Education, Fewer Women Graduate To CIO
Thank you for the feedback and thoughts. I'll think about a way to try to get to looking for any "leaks".
User Rank: Author
6/20/2013 | 3:03:27 PM
re: In Higher Education, Fewer Women Graduate To CIO
One number that puzzles me is the "CIO interest" figure holding steady, even as the number of tech leaders rises. Is the CIO role in higher ed changing in such a way that it is becoming less appealing to women? Is this a matter of timing? I.E., some women (and men) delay their final charge to become CIO to coincide with family demands. But then they do make that charge. Perhaps some of both. Let's hear from some female IT leaders in higher ed on this topic.

Laurianne McLaughlin
Some Other John Barnes
Some Other John Barnes,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/19/2013 | 8:52:54 PM
re: In Higher Education, Fewer Women Graduate To CIO
As an outsider stats junkie/back seat driver, I'm wondering if you've looked at how long the organizational path from new hire /starter to CIO is, and how long people are spending per rung. 26% to 21% is a big drop -- figured on its true base it's more like 20%, i.e. one in five of the female CIO positions has been switched to male in the last five years. But the "retire in the next 10" statistic is also revealing; people don't get to be CIO until they're a good deal closer to retirement than to startup. And the most common cause of a precipitate decline in plans to retire, IIRC, is people retiring (a person who retires is no longer counted as "planning to") So if 15 years ago or so there was a big surge in numbers of CIOs, but not in number of people sliding into the just-below slot, then as that earlier wave retires you're going to see some drifting down from the old achievements. Is there a leak in the pipeline somewhere below CIO, or was there a surge caused by a temporary now-closed fast track?

Just some more angles to try. As you rightly say, the data looks both concerning and puzzling.
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