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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Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2014 | 6:00:06 AM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department

@Alison_Diana     Good point.   The demographic shift that you mention is very real and something companies should not underestimate.   Many companies are operating under old models and it would not be surprising to see most of these models ineffective within the next decade.

Ask the telco's if their age old models are still effective ?    And I do applaud companies like Procter & Gamble for actually doing something about an issue that has been around for far too long.   

I am very sensitive to this issue because it is a battle minorites fight everyday - Should they have to fight this battle when they are qualified for the positions they seek ?  

Idealistically, one would think not but that is not realistic, what is real are the numbers ( they never lie ...) and the ingrained attitude that only whites and asians understand tech.  These groups love this misconception  and litterally feed off of it to further tighten their hold on the reigns of Industry influence. 

And since most ( no all ) of the major of the major tech companies are run by one or the other - this fallacy continues to grow unabated.    

As far as I am concerned, it is long overdue for someone to speak the truth regarding this issue, no matter how difficult it is to take.  I might just forward this link to the various "tech heads" so maybe they can take a moment away from being a "geniuses" to address this issue with real action.   Now that would be real  genius.

Thanks for letting me veer off course with respect to the main topic of this thread - Gender.   No doubt that is an issue of equal magnitude.

Susan Fourtané
IW Pick
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2014 | 1:23:02 AM
Re: Few female tech grads
SusanN, 

Yes, the issue certainly starts long before the first job interview. The way parents raise children is mostly what will determine the kind of men/women they will become at the workplace when having to interact with the opposite sex.

So, those men who don't accept women in tech positions most likely were boys who were taught by their parents that girls can't play with toy cars. The issue goes deep into how society has been conveniently molding gender roles. That, I believe, is what needs to be changed first. The question is, how do you do it? :/  

How funny. I had no interest in doll babies either. I was more interested in reading about and observing butterflies, the secret life of insects, conducting little science experiments (not with the butterflies), and investigating how things work. I liked spending time thinking. And people thought I was weird. :D 

-Susan 
Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 10:51:53 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Susan - It would also be intersting to see how this issues based on geography.  Like you I am here in the SF Bay Area and for the most part live in a culture that is progressive and my I dare say less likely to demonstrate this type of bias.  I say crossing my fingers that this does not trigger a sore point for one of our readers. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 9:11:32 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Jeff: so now the question is how do we eliminate it?

I'd say we start by cloning you!

:)

Thanks for your enlightened perspective, I'm confident that there are other men in tech out there who "get it" and having more and more of these folks add their voices to the discussion is extremely important.

All of us have it within us to advocate for change and speak up when we see things that are unjust.

 
Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 7:54:59 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Susan - Ouch I am sorry to say that your statement is true.  My point was made from purely a plutonic point of view and was meant only in the most sincere way.  I had the luck of being heavily influenced by my older sister and she instilled in me the value of people and who they are, period.  As a result I tend to forget about certain behaviours.  And this takes us full circle to the original post "have you witnessed this or been subject to discrimination based on gender".  And sexual harassment has no place in the workforce and we would all be best served if it did not exist at all.  But it does and so now the question is how do we eliminate it?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 7:30:36 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Jeff: I wholeheartedly agree with you in theory. However, in reality, for women trying to make their way in a male dominated field, being able to "work well and play well with others" sometimes takes on unpleasant meaning. I've heard countless stories from women who were the only females on their teams being subjected to all manner of offensive behavior from their male colleagues, rarely was it enough to file a harassment suit over -- or they chose not to for fear of permanent retribution in their careers -- but was enough to cause them to find a new job.

In an ideal world we would be rated on merit and I do hope someday what you're proposing becomes reality, and that we can be truly blind to gender, race, physical appearance, and all manner of other ways in which bias crops up in the workplace.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 7:26:37 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Technocrati: Yes, we have to pay attention not only to quantity but quality jobs for women in tech companies...Hiring more women for low-level positions would be like putting up new curtains on a broken window.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 7:23:46 PM
Re: Few female tech grads
@SusanF: Unfortunately I see some educated parents raising daughters and sons today who are still instilling those biases at a very very early age. Though I agree this is becoming less and less common, it does point out that the issue starts long before the first job interview.

I'm grateful that I had parents who let me play with whatever toys I preferred. I had quite a collection of Hot Rod racing cars that was the envy of my male cousins, though i also liked playing with my Easy Bake toy oven. I had no interest in doll babies, despite numerous well-intentioned relatives giving them to me as birthday gifts.

:)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 7:06:18 PM
Re: Few female tech grads
@Rman23a: As Alison has posted previously, many groups exist that recruiters can turn to in order to find qualified women. There's some validity to the concern that there aren't enough female candidates for certain tech jobs, and I expect that we will see that changing.

What I find just as troubling among tech companies in particular is how few women are employed even in non-tech jobs. 72% of Apple's leadership is made up of white men, for example.

According to an article in Business Insider: "In companies like Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn, women account for about half of the non-tech jobs, and about one-third of the total workforce."

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 6:49:58 PM
Re: Gender Bias
@Alison: you've nailed it: "...they have a high-level exec whose sole responsibility is to improve hiring and retention of a diverse workforce, and that includes making sure diverse employees have the resources and support they need once they enter the workforce at this business."

That's exactly what is needed, it's not enough for a company to hire folks so they can say they're diverse, they have to provide for an environment that truly operates openly and supports a diverse workforce.
<<   <   Page 4 / 8   >   >>
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