I recently saw this statement, above, on a LinkedIn discussion group and of course couldn’t help but respond. I was amazed and a bit surprised that with all the efforts that go into trying to get more girls interested in information technology careers, we still see these sorts of statements coming from men that are currently working in the industry! Some of the comments that preceded mine and Matti’s inferred that women just didn’t want to put in the effort, or that they just didn’t have what it took to stay the distance and do the hard yards of academic work required to get to the top of this field.
Here is my response below;
“Matti, I am going to respond to your comments briefly so here goes. Firstly, one of the big issues we have as women is that we have children, and so do tend take time out of the workforce to have them, even if it is a minimal amount of time. For me, I have three children and took a total of 7 years out of the workforce to have and care for them – there is already a hit to my bottom pocket right there in terms of prospects of promotion, continuity of information tech skills, and of course lost income and worse still, superannuation. Until we all in society take responsibility for the continuity of the species, women will most probably be disadvantaged. Men are just as capable of caring for children, but as yet can’t have them physically. Given this, traditionally, and I am talking over centuries, women have been seen as the ‘carers and supporters’ with men being the primary breadwinners. It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that this has created a work (and political and religious) environment and framework that has been predominately created by men. As women, we still experience some of the ramifications of this, but it is changing and by opening ourselves up to a more diverse talent mix (and that means women that have been full time mothers and carers of society), we must open up new ways of designing our organisations, open ourselves to new ways of thinking and increase innovation by diversity of thought.
The issue of why men seem to like IT more than women is also complex, but after about twenty years in IT mostly software development I have some ideas. I was at a talk by a man from Silicon Valley only this week and during his 40 minutes, I heard him repeatably talk about “the men” of Silicon Valley. He mentioned many names and they were all male. He talked in terms of ‘what is sexy’ (yes I thought that went out with the ark too, but no), he talked in aggressive, spurious, sometimes wanky sentences that, really seemed to big note himself rather than give us information. Women don’t respond to this type of talk (we are not turned on by it so much) and the idea of geeks working all through the night and eating pizza doesn’t appeal to many women either. I know myself, if my developers were working through the night, there was something wrong with my management and this meant we needed more resources or we needed to cut scope. So many women and girls just don’t get turned on by the bravado and geek behaviour.
However, we do need to appeal to girls to take up IT, but not in the way that we are doing it by talking about science and ‘sexy’ work all night stuff. We need to let our girls know that IT as a way to change things for the better, and get them to understand that technology is the decision making tool of the future. Everywhere we look, everything has some information technology component so girls must participate to retain a seat at the decision making table of the future. It is also going to mean a change in the way that traditional CIO’s and technical people behave, what they think work is and how they manage increasingly complex and diverse environments, like the mix of older workers and Gen X, Y.
Finally, many women are highly dedicated. They do courses, some are still the primary care giver for children, often look after elderly parents, try to be good wives and partners and are often exceptional employees. And, as you say badness is not restricted to any one gender, but then neither should be diversity of choice.”
Since the initial response was done using my iPhone, I have made a couple of corrections to spelling and grammar to hopefully help the translation of the original article to this blog post. Needless to say, that seemed to be the end of the discussion.
- That’s not a “response”, Michael, it’s a “denial” (freethoughtblogs.com)
- Egypt and other Arab democracies will not survive without including more women (csmonitor.com)
- Let Girls Do It! (ipledgeafallegiance.wordpress.com)