Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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8/11/2014
08:06 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
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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.

Gender diversity is a hot topic among tech companies these days, and the statistics are grim: Males dominate the global workforces at all the tech companies that have revealed their diversity data this year.

We wondered if the same was true for IT in general. Are IT organizations in major commercial enterprises, healthcare organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions as male-dominated as the tech companies from which they source their products?

The results of a recent InformationWeek flash poll might lead us to believe that IT organizations across industry verticals are less discriminatory when it comes to gender than their tech-only counterparts.

More than 3,000 of you responded to our flash poll, Gender Discrimination IT, between July 1 and August 7, 2014. In response to the question "Do you believe you've ever witnessed gender discrimination in IT?" more than half of you said you have either witnessed it or been a victim of it. Just under half (48.75%) said no, indicating you've not witnessed gender discrimination in IT.

Table 1: Do you believe you've ever witnessed gender discrimination in IT?

Response % Respondents
Yes, I've seen it 34.53%
Yes, and I've been a victim of it 16.72%
Source: InformationWeek Flash Poll, "Gender Discrimination in IT," June 1-August 7, 2014; 3,235 respondents.

As with all forms of discrimination, gender bias can be blatant or it can be subtle. So while those respondents who say they've never witnessed it may be fortunate enough to work for truly enlightened companies, it's also possible that the sexism was so de facto that they didn't even recognize it. Likewise, those who say they have witnessed or experienced gender discrimination may have in fact been harmed by some insidious displays of gender bias, without experiencing behavior that egregious enough to prompt legal action (more on that later).

One blatant -- and illegal -- form of gender discrimination is pay disparity. Unless you're sharing your paystubs with your co-workers, you may not even be aware that unequal pay for equal work exists at your organization.

[Help equalize the tech gender gap by encouraging young women's' interest in STEM. Here are 12 great resources: 12 STEM Resources For Young Women.]

Salary disparity is a very real fact of life, however, for many women in IT. According to the InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey, the median total compensation for a female IT staffer is $81,000. For male counterparts it's $94,000, a difference of $13,000. That's a significant gap.

That pay gap is echoed in compensation for managers, with median total compensation for men at $122,000, versus $110,000 for women. (If you're looking to increase your earnings in IT, check out these negotiating tactics from Joan C. Williams, distinguished professor and founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at University of California's Hastings College of the Law.)

Perhaps even more indicative of the gender gap in IT is the difference in the number of men and women responding to our 2014 IT Salary Survey. Nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of the 5,717 IT managers and 85% of the 5,945 IT staff respondents were male.

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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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Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
8/12/2014 | 10:02:44 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Alison_Diana, that's a great question. And I suppose you're thinking that discrimination/bias would be more prevalent in tech firms and less so in other sectors?
zaious
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zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 11:55:35 PM
Re: Gender Bias
The numbers are, well, surprising. I felt there is a bias, but these numbers are not what I expected. Anyway, there are changes taking place. I hope every deserving person will claim the right position or job.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 5:51:29 PM
Re: Gender Bias
Thanks for this, Susan. I think we can glean a lot from the information you've shared, if we're willing to read into it a little. The fact that all three of the acts you list reiterate that it's illegal to retaliate to discrimination complaints, for example, is very telling. It really only needs to be on one law to make it illegal, but that says that it needed some tweaking to get it right... and maybe that employers were dancing around it before. You shared a statistic just the other week Susan that Discrimination cases are found in favor of the employee only about 30% of the time - because it's hard to prove. The same thing applies to the retaliation aspect, and it can also be subtle.  Just because you fired someone after they complained about discrimination doesn't mean that's why you fired them.

The stats from the companies are also a little surprising, but maybe that shows some of my own Gender Bias, thinking that certain companies would or wouldn't be closer to 50/50. Salesforce and VMWare are among the lowest which is maybe not that surprising - discrimination is bound to be worst when it comes to sales and hard-business oriented jobs. On the other hand, I would have thought the all-mighty Google and Facebook would have done a lot better. They talk a lot about their proactive approach to hiring - but maybe this shows that some of that is just talk. Thanks for sharing.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/11/2014 | 11:55:27 AM
Tech Co vs. Tech Department
I wonder if there are discernable differences if you work at a technology company (which focuses exclusively on tech -- such as a developer or integrator) vs. working in the tech department of a different type of business (such as healthcare, retail, or education)?
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