IT needs more men and less boys

I am afraid I am veering away from my usual rants on SDN or mobiles to focus on a different sort of networking today, dear readers.

When I came into the office this morning – somewhere I managed to get without a man holding my hand, opening doors for me or paying for my tube fare – I received a press release that boggled my delicate little mind.

A new ‘club’ for business workers is being launched, but not one of these pesky clubs open to everyone than means you don’t feel special or superior as a member. No, it is specifically aimed at “an elite group of boys who have made their mark in business and want to enjoy their success with other boys.”

I was a tad dumbstruck. For starters, why on earth was “The Business Boys Club” contacting a technology journalist – terrible PR mistake, although it isn’t clear who their PR is. The contact listed is Marcus Sedghi but we just had a less than polite phone call from the chap saying he was not their PR. He wouldn’t tell us what connection he had with the group. 

But my major issue was the reason the release stated such a group was necessary.

Founder of the club, Simon Badland, said: “There are loads of networking clubs out there, and many that are exclusively for women. I thought it was about time that the boys had the chance to network in a single sex environment too.

Oh dear. Really? Has the past several hundred years not been enough for you?

I am a female IT journalist. Both IT and journalism are very male dominated professions. I will accept the premise that there has been more female focused groups emerging in the private sector but I will not accept they are overpowering the old boys clubs that have existed as long as people have gone out to work.

The reason these women’s groups, such as Women in IT, exist are as a support network for the outnumbered, giving strength in solidarity to those entering a workplace who know they may be different from the norm. Computer Weekly hosts an awards for women in our industry as well, not to put men down but to show there is a career available to women who want to enter the market and show their technological skills, but may otherwise be deterred by the numbers.

Badland considers this an injustice on his group of male elitists and that I do not understand.

But don’t think this is just the little flustered woman’s delicate nerves getting to her. I work with successful business men on a daily basis and when I showed one of my male colleagues this release, he said he couldn’t have been more patronised. He likes the company of women, he likes spending time with people from all walks of life and he has no desire to pay over £500 to become part of a group of, well, I won’t use the word he did, that want to sit in a bubble of status quo rather than embrace the modern era.

I can only assume they targeted me knowing I write for a largely male audience, but from those of you I meet, I know the majority of you will be as appalled as me and my colleague.

Successful people are those who look to explore every avenue, see the strengths in their team members and put in 100% to the task at hand, not boys who hide in a seedy club complaining that women are allowed to wear trousers to work or the fact they have been let out of the kitchen in the first place.

Maybe they do need a group like this as their way of thinking is so outdated, they are becoming a minority. Alas I don’t think we are there yet but every day I work in IT, it keeps showing me there is light at the end of the tunnel and a work environment open to all.   

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