“Its a fact that more men are attracted to IT positions than women – that’s just a general difference between the sexes, with exceptions of course”

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


4 thoughts on ““Its a fact that more men are attracted to IT positions than women – that’s just a general difference between the sexes, with exceptions of course”

  1. The capacity of (mostly) white men of anglo-saxon heritage to misunderstand how their education, their work environments, their family structures and their social world (basically their entire existence) has all been created, evolved and configured from within a ‘white male anglo-saxon’ framework (so therefore, to them, all appears to be perfectly balanced and legitimate for any type of person to be a part of) is seemingly unending. So of course when someone comes into that environment who doesn’t appreciate or want to take part in the same cultural drivers around male competitive motivation, bravado or chest beating, they’re often assumed to “not be as capable”, “not really understand the technology” or “not be a team player”. In my experience females are often extremely turned off by the whole experience of the manner in which many men within IT engage with each other and the processes around promotion or commendation (that’s if they even get there in the first place; that’s really what the main issue is; for many girls IT is terribly unattractive because of these male behavioural issues and traits, so they don’t even consider it as a career option in the first place).

    Leaders within business and government need to realise our society is missing out on substantial innovation and productivity improvement because of the unattractiveness (to a lot of females) of the IT industry’s high testosterone ethos. Imagine what amazing additional creativity, diversity and problem solving we’d have if it was more balanced and females desired to be part of it just as much as males? That scenario is entirely possible. Women have the capacity to have just as much interest in IT as men, It’s simply the current social structures, interactions and male domination that makes it appear the statement “Its a fact that more men are attracted to IT positions than women…” is accurate.

    1. I would like to go because I think that it will be important for my research. Yes there are lots of strange subjects, but then that is what I want to look at. There is a danger of HR professionals and academics getting completely caught up with diversity and massaging it so that it looks like a black art, where as I think diversity and the associated programs need to be run out of HR as part of the business, not protected in a HR department. Really diversity in a global economy is a fact of life and a normal part of business. Thanks for your comment, and associated post.

      1. Thanks,

        Please write a blog post about the “Heteronormativity” lecture if you do attend. I reckon that would be worth the attendance fee alone!

        By the way, I do agree about diversity being a fact of life, I just chuckle at the cottage industry (no pun intended in a heteronormativistic way) that feeds off such a simple fact.

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