Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
8/11/2014
08:06 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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Gender Bias: Is Your IT Group Guilty?

When it comes to gender bias, a recent InformationWeek flash poll suggests that IT groups may be slightly less discriminatory than the tech industry in general. But there's still plenty of work to be done.

All you have to do is take a head count at any tech industry conference to get an informal idea of the male/female composition of the average IT department. The salary survey results, as well as recent diversity reports from major tech companies, serve to support what we already know anecdotally: This industry is male-dominated.

Table 2: Tech company worldwide workforces by gender

Company Male Female
eBay 58% 42%
Facebook 69% 31%
Google 70% 30%
LinkedIn 61% 39%
Pinterest 60% 40%
Salesforce 71% 29%
Twitter 70% 30%
VMWare 78% 22%
Yahoo 62% 37%
Sources: Company reports, 2014.

There are a number of US laws designed to prevent gender bias (and other forms of workplace discrimination), all of which are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These laws include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants' and employees' sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963, which makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

However, sexism can take many forms in the workplace. Some may not be legally actionable but still serve to undermine women's potential to advance.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The only woman in a meeting is expected to be the default note-taker.
  • A woman is asked about child care plans during a job interview, a question that's rarely raised with male candidates.
  • A woman is deprived of the chance to lead a major project because she's seen as a "maternity risk."
  • A woman is accused of "emotional" behavior when the same behavior in her male colleague is considered "passionate" or simply "angry."
  • A woman's ideas voiced in a meeting are ignored or dismissed, only to be repeated by a male colleague a short time later to wild acclaim.

If you can look at the list above and honestly tell us that you've never seen any of these things happen in your workplace, congratulations! Please tell us where you work and how we can all get jobs there. But if you are already thinking up 12 more examples, share them with us. Exposing these insidious forms of discrimination is a first step toward recovery.

Technology is rising in importance in most companies, but is the IT department's importance and reputation also rising? InformationWeek is conducting a survey to determine how IT is perceived in the enterprise. Take the IT Perception Survey today and be eligible to win a prize. Survey ends Aug. 15.

Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 7:29:00 AM
Re: Gender Bias
I think that a good deal of the gap could be closed if every child had a little more exposure to the STEM fields.  I hear a lot of adults discourage kids by saying things like "you won't need that in the future" or "that's hard and you won't use it after you get out of school anyway".  They are unwittingly pushing them away from the sciences.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2014 | 7:35:03 AM
Re: Let's examine the IT group's parents
Ashish, 

Yay! That's true. :D 

I remember my mother had a book on this topic. 

Well, I am not against two and three-year-old kids playing with iPads if they are taught how to play with it by the parents, who are the ones responsible for anything the kids do online while using the iPad, including downloading and installing games.

It's definitely not the kids' fault but their parents. Blaming and punishing those kids is simply wrong. Kids learn easily if they are taught right. 

-Susan

 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2014 | 7:03:39 AM
Re: Few female tech grads
SusanN, 

"Getting a license to drive an automobile requires more training than becoming a parent does."

For anything that requires some responsibility there is a learning process and a test. Why not for parenting is a mystery to me. I would also add a phychological test. 

"I've often wondered why basic parenting skills aren't taught in High School." 

That would be a good start. 

But then I look at news stories about the enormous arguments taking place in the U.S. over whether or not schools should be allowed to teach children about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and I despair."

I haven't heard about that kind of old argument in a long time. But, honestly, if there is still that kind of thinking going on there is nothing we can do about it with our brilliant Susan thinking. :D

-SusanF 

 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 6:11:41 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Thanks S.N.    I would agree.  It will probably be another couple of centuries before society will no longer be able to ignore the obvious.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:51:05 PM
Re: Gender Bias
SaneIT,

You raise a very fair and accurate point.

As an Employer one can't expect that you will always go outside the Line of Duty to find Employees just so that your "Diversity-Mix" targets is met.

A Much better approach is to first look at why More Girls don't go into STEM fields,then focus on what can be done to get them there(and stay there) and then only the Talent Pool Mix will improve(automatically in fact).

For that Governments have a very important role to play(after all most Americans come through Public Schools today and this is where you need to focus and encourage Girls to go into STEM Fields).

Expecting Employers (on their own) to do something outside the Normal is expecting too much.

After all,this can have a reverse effect as well(By Driving Salaries for the Few Women Candidates to Stratospheric Heights).

And that would not really help anybody,especially if it was'nt done Sustainably in the Long-run.

Regards

Ashish. 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:41:33 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
SusanN,

If ever I see or meet anyone who is going through such a Situation,The First thing I do is Gift them a copy(or lend them mine) of the Great,Great Book-"How to Win Friends and Influence People".

And of course you will need to add good Contemporary Touches to that today.

As a Mentor I seen many people face such a Situation(its not just about Gender but also about many other Stereotypes);The First thing I usually tell them is to stop complaining and Cribbing endlessly about it-Either at Home or in the Office or with your Friends.

Go to Work with a Massive Smile in the Morning and whoever you meet interact with them with a Smile.

A Smile usually melts most Barriers(I am saying this from personal Experience);Then you will need to do more stuff to mix in with the Crowd.

What else are you really,Really Good at?[Apart from Work].

Some people are Brilliant at Cooking,Some are Brilliant at Painting,Sports,etc,etc.

Whatever your special skills are bring them to the Table at Work and show your Talent and Passion in a big,big Way.

It will connect with most colleagues spectacularly.

Everyone wants to around people who are always Smiling and Buzzing and Cracking with Energy-Its like Moths to a Lightbulb.

Regards

Ashish.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:33:07 PM
Re: Few female tech grads
SusanN,

Those arguments-Categorizing Reformers as Left-Wing/Right-Wing make me Laugh usually!

While all this while our Basic Education is going down the Drain.

You see so many Public School Teachers(not all of whom are of the Highest Quality or standard) get tenured with Fat Pensions to Boot for doing basically nothing.

Its really shocking how many Teachers in Big Cities who actually Harm Little Kids(Physically,Mentally and Emotionally) get a Free Pass because they are protected by their Unions.

This Malaise is not limited to just Schools but is the same at most Universities as well.But atleast there Students have a choice about which University to attend ;Here primarily because everything paid for by The Taxpayer directly(Via Taxes) which continue to be extracted from them whether they give consent or not that things get really ,really troublesome.

Regards

Ashish. 
Ashu001
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50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:33:06 PM
Re: Few female tech grads
SusanN,

Those arguments-Categorizing Reformers as Left-Wing/Right-Wing make me Laugh usually!

While all this while our Basic Education is going down the Drain.

You see so many Public School Teachers(not all of whom are of the Highest Quality or standard) get tenured with Fat Pensions to Boot for doing basically nothing.

Its really shocking how many Teachers in Big Cities who actually Harm Little Kids(Physically,Mentally and Emotionally) get a Free Pass because they are protected by their Unions.

This Malaise is not limited to just Schools but is the same at most Universities as well.But atleast there Students have a choice about which University to attend ;Here primarily because everything paid for by The Taxpayer directly(Via Taxes) which continue to be extracted from them whether they give consent or not that things get really ,really troublesome.

Regards

Ashish. 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:26:58 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
SusanN,

I would like to venture a Guess,why Women seem to dominate Four Square and SMBs in these states.

Have you noticed(I am sure you have) that they have a Large Rural Population and have vast expanses of Rural Territory.

In Rural America,most of the Hard &Physical Jobs are done by Men(usually);this frees up the Women to try their hands at other ecletic stuff like Tech Businesses.

Thing is even if you have Men there who are Tech Oriented,they don't tend to stay in these States-The Pull of the Valley,Austin ,NYC or Boston is so great that most of them head out there.

This leaves the Women behind (who usually are more attached the Area/Primary Caregivers) who tend to multi-task brilliantly as well!

I Hope this helps!

Regards

Ashish.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 3:21:19 PM
Re: Let's examine the IT group's parents
Susan,

Its about time you finished the Book and had it for Printing!

LOL!

This is such a fundamental topic(where Quality Information is in Short Supply),that one wonders what magic a Good Quality Book could do here.

Think about it-I see Kids as Young as two-three year olds play around with iPads and go to Google PlayStores download Games,Install it and play whatever they like..

You remember the case where a Kid Downloaded Games worth Thousands of Dollars from their parents phones and the Parent was stumped when they saw the Bill?

Can you imagine,what a great effect Good quality Education (for both Parents and Kids) can have here.

Regards

Ashish.

 
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