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Is IT sexist?

Women bring special skills to the IT industry, so why are there so few of them?

A recent survey of over 150 recently graduated women, working for some of the top names in the IT industry, found that women brought key and different skills to work than men and that mixed gender teams worked far more constructively than all male or male-dominated teams.

The survey was carried out by the leading IT graduate careers website over a three week period in October and was launched at the annual ‘IT’s not just for the boys’ event, organised by TARGETevents before an audience of female undergraduates and the sponsors Bloomberg, Nomura, Barclays, CHP Consulting and BCS on November 4 2010.

The women surveyed heartily recommended IT as a fantastic career for women and were convinced that women had complementary skills to offer. They felt that women, in general, had a greater attention to detail, better organisation skills and could multitask better than men. They also said that women possessed more developed ‘soft’ skills and were more sensitive and more effective communicators. They made the point that mixed gender teams encouraged efficient working with a greater level of innovation and creativity as women definitely had a ‘different way of looking at things’.

Despite their positive encouragement of undergraduate women to join the industry, they did have a number of concerns. They pointed out that it was sometimes lonely and isolated being in such a male-dominated work environment and the lack of women in senior roles was discouraging. This sometimes led, they felt, to women having to push themselves forward more at work to avoid being underestimated. They also had strong but unproven suspicions that senior men earned better salaries than women and put this down to men being more assertive in salary negotiations.

One key piece of advice they offered was not to think all IT recruiters were the same. They urged undergraduates to research the working culture of organisations before applying. They suggested looking especially for senior women in the organisation and a record of promoting and developing female talent.

Chris Phillips, publishing director at TARGETjobs IT and author of the Report said “Although IT is still a male-dominated profession, it’s clear from the responses of the women surveyed that things are changing and that women can make an effective contribution to the industry. Despite the challenges that they face at work, they were more than happy to recommend IT as a career for bright women. In fact, in their view, if IT had more women entrants and more women in senior positions, then organisations would be more successful”.


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