IT's a man's world: We're not complaining

kbateman | 3 Comments
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I've spoken to a few women this week who agreed with me when I asked if some people can get the wrong impression when they see the words "women in technology." To those that are not involved in any of these groups or discussions, seeing women constantly banging the "tech is not just for boys" drum must be tiresome.  

Before I started covering the issue for Computer Weekly's WITsend I was one of those people who thought it was a bunch of feminists complaining about the lack of females in a male dominated industry.

But it's not.

It wasn't until I started to attend the meetings and read the opinions in the blogs I'm sent, that I realised the real issue is about gender imbalance. Ladies in these meetings don't sit around complaining about the sheer amount of men in the industry - they praise them for their hard work and admire them for their passion of technology. The meetings and discussions are used as platforms to promote gender balance not to complain about men taking up all of the job roles.

These women understand that encouraging any interest in the tech sector and computer science is important to its growth, whether the graduates/candidates are male or female.

The women that attend these meetings do not stand up and argue why a woman would be better for the job. They argue that women simply bring a different view point to men, and that gender diversity can help drive a successful business.

Diversity is important in any industry, but particularly technology. Technology knows no gender. Emailing, commenting, messaging, tweeting, liking - this is the way the world talks to each other regardless of gender.

I recently had a conversation with Jess Butcher, co-founder and chief marketing officer of mobile app company Blippar, who told me her London office is mostly guys and her New York office is all girls. She said she's not comfortable with either and is actively seeking more men for the New York office and more girls for London, as she recognises the power in having a mixed team. She sees the value in having a team with a range of different skills that can only be achieved through employing both genders.

With both genders avid users of technology how can a company churn out products without input from both sexes?  

Belinda Parmar, of Lady Geek, is a challenger of the "Pink it, shrink it" tactic used by several suppliers. She believes this is a lazy technique used by tech marketers, in a bid to make their products more appealing to women.

What I like about Lady Geek's Little Miss Geek Campaign is that it refuses to moan about the stats, which clearly show a lack of females in tech, but instead offers practical steps to addressing the issue of gender imbalance.

Every meeting, conference, awards, roundtable I attend the speakers never fail to thank the men in their lives. Be it their family, or a male boss that took them under their wing when they entered the industry.

Women in technology are not against men in technology - we're with you. I'm wondering if the coined phrase of "women in tech" or "a woman in IT" is turning people off before they get a chance to see/read what these groups are really about.


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3 Comments

  • When I ran the Women into IT Campaign in the late 1980s (the one that temporarily lifted the ratio of girls applying to do computer science from 12% and falling to 27% and rising) I remember an academic (now a leading light in the industry) lamenting that she had only 8% girls on her course, before adding that, looking at the quality of the men on the course, it was not surprising. The girls come for interview, took one look at the boys on the course and went elsewhere. One of the core findings from that campaign was that when employers changed their recruitment messages to emphasise the use of IT to benefit users and society they not only got more women applying, they also got a better quality of man. That is if you measure "quality" by quietly delivering what the users wanted, to time and budget - as opposed to winning avoidable contractual or technical fire fights over who was to blame for problems. Unfortunately it was (and still is) those who win such battles, however unnecessary, who tend to get promoted. Hence the poor value for money that users so often get.

  • When I ran the Women into IT Campaign in the late 1980s (the one that temporarily lifted the ratio of girls applying to do computer science from 12% and falling to 27% and rising) I remember an academic (now a leading light in the industry) lamenting that she had only 8% girls on her course, before adding that, looking at the quality of the men on the course, it was not surprising. The girls come for interview, took one look at the boys on the course and went elsewhere. One of the core findings from that campaign was that when employers changed their recruitment messages to emphasise the use of IT to benefit users and society they not only got more women applying, they also got a better quality of man. That is if you measure "quality" by quietly delivering what the users wanted, to time and budget - as opposed to winning avoidable contractual or technical fire fights over who was to blame for problems. Unfortunately it was (and still is) those who win such battles, however unnecessary, who tend to get promoted. Hence the poor value for money that users so often get.

  • When I ran the Women into IT Campaign in the late 1980s (the one that temporarily lifted the ratio of girls applying to do computer science from 12% and falling to 27% and rising) I remember an academic (now a leading light in the industry) lamenting that she had only 8% girls on her course, before adding that, looking at the quality of the men on the course, it was not surprising. The girls come for interview, took one look at the boys on the course and went elsewhere. One of the core findings from that campaign was that when employers changed their recruitment messages to emphasise the use of IT to benefit users and society they not only got more women applying, they also got a better quality of man. That is if you measure "quality" by quietly delivering what the users wanted, to time and budget - as opposed to winning avoidable contractual or technical fire fights over who was to blame for problems. Unfortunately it was (and still is) those who win such battles, however unnecessary, who tend to get promoted. Hence the poor value for money that users so often get.

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    This page contains a single entry by Kayleigh Bateman published on February 22, 2013 4:50 PM.

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