Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
8/11/2014
08:06 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

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.

Next Page

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
Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 8   >   >>
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 7:16:23 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Jeff: It is quite a beautiful place (at least the portion of it I saw during a cross-country move). It may also simply be less saturated with large corporations, leaving room for small- and medium-sized businesses to thrive. 
Jeff Jerome
50%
50%
Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 7:12:34 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Susan - I hear Wyomig is a nice place to down site, or right size too, maybe that is a compomenet.
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 6:39:00 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Jeff: Fantastic infographic, thanks for sharing. certainly not the states I would have expected: 61% of Wyoming businesses using Square are owned by women -- the highest ratio of any U.S. state, followed by Montana (60%), North Dakota (59%), Iowa (57%), Nebraska (57%), Idaho (56%), Alaska (56%), South Dakota (56%), Maine (56%), and Kansas (55%).

I wonder how  many of them are tech-oriented women-owned businesses...I'll see if I can get a call into the folks at Square and find out how deeply they've sliced the data.
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/28/2014 | 6:36:10 PM
Re: Few female tech grads
@SusanF: Getting a license to drive an automobile requires more training than becoming a parent does. I've often wondered why basic parenting skills aren't taught in High School. 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. How could we possibly agree on how to teach children about parenting if we can't even agree  how to teach basic science and bilology. Ah, but I suppose this is a discussion for another forum...
Jeff Jerome
IW Pick
100%
0%
Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2014 | 8:44:29 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Square: Here's to Women's Equality Day! See the breakdown of women-owned businesses across the U.S.

Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2014 | 3:04:23 AM
Let's examine the IT group's parents
SusanN, 

The title of your article could even be changed to Gender Bias: Are Your IT Group's Parents Guilty? Examining the root of the problem. :D

Yay! It sounds like a good title for a book, doesn't it? :)  

-SusanF
Susan Fourtané
IW Pick
100%
0%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2014 | 2:48:32 AM
Re: Few female tech grads
SusanN, 

"So much of parenting is about personal choices, ... "

Choices and responsibility. Parents need to guide the new beings, but how do they guide them when it's some of them the ones who need guidance in life? Where is parenting school?

If you want to become an engineer you go to university and study engineering and other things. Where do you go and what do you study when you want to become a parent? Learning on the go doesn't seem to work well in most cases. The evidence is all around us in society.

" ... and I see some friends who raise their children in very gender neutral environments and others who are all about the girl and boy distinctions in clothing, toys, nursery decor, etc. pretty much from the moment the baby arrives." 

Raising children in gender neutral environments will result in grown ups with a strong sense of equity, who will not have preference over gender in the work environment neither to assign a postion nor to offer a salary.  

On the other hand, raising children making the old boy-girl distinction will result in what we mostly see in the enterprise and society as a whole today. 

Those who have children, what kind of tomorrow's work force are they raising today?

You hear a lot of people complaining about this. Who does something about it, starting from home? 

Not being a parent doesn't prevent me from having a very strong opinion about parenting. :) What's more, I have thought of writing a book on the topic. 

-SusanF 
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/26/2014 | 6:41:17 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Alison: "have you ever worked or socialized or been part of a team (a sports team, for example), that does nothing to accept or welcome you -- or even proactively works against you, for whatever reason?"

the short answer: Yes.

The long answer: This is often the stuff lawsuits are made of, but sometimes it's so hard to prove. the examples you site of the early days of women in police and fire depts. are so blatant that they were able to file suit. However, in many organizations, this form of shunning and undermining can be dismissed as "office politics" even if it is truly rooted in a form of bias. I agree everyone deserves the kind of comfortable working environment that you described. Hard to believe in this century it's still something that people have to fight for.
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/26/2014 | 6:37:47 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Technocrati: your comments about the inner-city and other absurd assumptions made about minorities led me to think about another important and even more difficult to define form of workplace bias: Socioeconomic class.

I'm a mailman's daughter who grew up in a multicultural poor to working-poor neighborhood in Queens, NY, and I have been on job interviews where the person doing the hiring was clearly biased toward the fact that I had not attended an ivy league school, was not wearing status label clothing, etc. In one such interview, the hiring manager made pointed comments about his penthouse apartment, his home in the Hamptons, etc., and asked about what neighborhood of Manhattan I was living in (Upper West Side), was I renting or did I own, etc. He seemed more interested in talking about these things, and didn't ask me any questions about my actual qualifications. It was intensely awkward and I wasn't at all surprised when I didn't get the job.
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/26/2014 | 6:30:48 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Alison: Kudos to IBM. In my experience, the workplace programs that were designed for women were open ONLY to women, which I thought rather odd, especially considering that all the mentors I have had so far in my career have happened to be men. Unfortunately, I have yet to experience a workplace that is so diverse that there's even a need for a program for so-called minorities (I hate that particular term, but that's a topic for another day!).
<<   <   Page 2 / 8   >   >>
Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
Transformative CIOs Organize for Success
Trying to meet today’s business technology needs with yesterday’s IT organizational structure is like driving a Model T at the Indy 500. Time for a reset.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Government Tech Digest Oct. 27, 2014
To meet obligations -- and avoid accusations of cover-up and incompetence -- federal agencies must get serious about digitizing records.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and community news at InformationWeek.com.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.