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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Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
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8/14/2014 | 2:29:35 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department -Making Marketing Better—Why Diversity Enhances Your Business
Hot topic these days: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140814175057-22977722-making-marketing-better-why-diversity-enhances-your-business?trk=tod-home-art-list-large_0

 

 

Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2014 | 9:41:20 AM
Re: Few female tech grads
@Technocrati - I believe the percentage of women in tech has grown, but not nearly fast enough considering the many opportunities across all industries within technology. Savvy organizations realize they MUST hire women and minorities, otherwise they'll simply run out of the best-qualified employees! But it's more than that. Several studies demonstrate the benefits an inclusive workforce bring and those organizations that aren't welcoming could well find themselves in trouble eventually when their competitors attract the best and brightest, regardless of gender, ethnicity, color, religion, or other factor.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
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8/14/2014 | 9:38:56 AM
Re: Gender Bias
Sure thing, @SaneIT. There are several well-known organizations that advocate (and help train HR/CIOs/CEOs, I believe) for a diverse tech workforce. They include: The Anita Borg Institute; the Society for Women Engineers; the American Society for Civil Engineering; Association of Women Engineers; National Society of Black Engineers; Urban Technology Network, and the Minority Professional Network (a mix of tech and non-tech groups/resources).

Here's a link to a page that has several organizations for minorities and women. They are not all necessarily focused on IT, but some groups probably have an IT career expert, conference, or other resources available. 

In researching a long, multi-part feature for Internet Evolution, I heard some tips from IT and HR pros in tech (email me at alison.diana@ubm.com) and i will send you a PDF of the story, if you'd like. During that research, I found many statistics that demonstrate the importance of a diverse staff: Of course, customers increasingly are diverse, so that's one obvious reason, but at least one study suggested even stock prices improve for more inclusive organizations!

Many are really simple and straight-forward: For example, HR recommends figuring out whether a new female or minority employee prefers large groups vs. one-on-ones and then make sure the IT staff welcomes her/him by taking them out to lunch, either as a group or in small or one/one parties during the first few weeks. This helps make the new hire feel part of the team. It's important, the HR exec said, for the CIO or IT manager to plan this so the newbie isn't stuck eating lunch alone during those first few days and weeks, giving her/him the opportunity to learn more about colleagues, company, etc.

Many larger tech firms (like IBM and EMC) have internal groups for their female and/or minority employees; these groups have meetings and support diverse hires by helping them network, resolve any real or conceived issues, etc. Larger firms also participate in some of the groups I provided in the first graf, either by paying for employees to attend events, encouraging them to speak on a panel at these meetings, or sponsoring part of the conference. There are usually local Meet-Up groups for diverse employees; by sponsoring, catering, or using company facilities for a meeting, even the smallest business sends a welcoming message to the tech community. 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2014 | 9:21:50 AM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Here is the USA Today story where Cook discussed Apple's (lack of) diversity and his disappointment/plans to improve. Good luck!
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2014 | 9:19:53 AM
Re: Few female tech grads
It's a shame there were no women in your class, but that is (thankfully) not always the case, as Laurie said. Thanks to the efforts of K-12 and higher-ed schools, IT professionals, organizations, and volunteers, more women (younger and older) see technology as a viable, fulfilling, and attractive career path. Granted, it's nowhere near a 50/50 split (or close), but it's tough to turn a ship around overnight. 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/14/2014 | 7:12:27 AM
Re: Gender Bias
@Alison_Diana, can you give me an example of some of those resources or how they reach out because I'd love to pass that along to our HR team.   Traditional hiring for IT positions seems to be lacking or as you pointed out it is reaching out in the wrong directions.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/13/2014 | 5:50:49 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
"....Tim Cook did say improving Apple's diversity is a priority for him."

 

@Alison _Diana       Really ?   I had not heard that about Mr.Cook.  I might have to dust off the ol' resume in that case.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/13/2014 | 5:48:08 PM
Re: Few female tech grads

@Rman23a      I experienced the same thing during my studies in MIS.   There were about ten or so women in my class, I wonder how many of them are working in tech today ?   That was in 1997 - It sounds like the numbers are even worse in CS today.

Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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8/13/2014 | 4:44:29 PM
Re: Few female tech grads
I volunteer with a group of young women at an engineering-focused college here in MA and let me assure you they are not only real but also incredibly smart.

 
Rman23a
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Rman23a,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/13/2014 | 4:03:18 PM
Few female tech grads
What am I missing here?  I had 0 females in my Computer Science major at university.  How are companies supposed to hire what doesn't exist?

thanks
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