Careers in IT: Women Please Apply

Birgit Nazarian, Writer, specializing in IT and HR | 2/15/2012 | 27 comments

Birgit Nazarian
Many of the biggest technology-related companies are reaching out and hoping to snag a few good men... and women. With the Society of Women Engineers preparing to host the NCWIT Summit on Women and IT, leaders in the industry are hoping their strategies bring in more women now and in the coming years.

Why are they trying so hard? According to a recent report from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, "if current trends continue, by 2018 the information technology industry will only be able to fill half of its available jobs." Since 2001, the ratio of women to men majoring in computer science has been dropping significantly. To help avoid a continued, ever-increasing shortage of talent, we must figure out how to persuade more women and members of other diverse groups to choose careers in IT.

Many institutions and think tanks have been collecting a lot of interesting data suggesting that diversity is good for innovation and overall success. Diverse, mixed-gender teams appear to be better problem solvers than single-gender teams. I don’t want to split hairs with anyone about differences between the sexes, and I’m not Camille Paglia. But let’s just say more diversity in thinking due to different backgrounds and experiences creates a certain je ne sais quoi.

So how do the NCWIT and its many friends in the IT industry (like Microsoft, IBM, and Google) propose to convince women to consider a career in technology? One way is with partnerships that create initiatives in corporations and schools all over the country. They start with a big idea: showing more women of all ages how a career in IT can be a good choice and how they can become part of the industry. To achieve this goal, they formed the Pacesetters fast-track program. Its goal is to add 1,000 women to the IT professional ranks this year.

According to Campus Technology, schools and businesses participating in Pacesetters are already reporting progress. The University of Virginia expects its female computing graduates to increase 10 percent to 25 percent. Google says it has doubled its female engineer interns, and the University of California, Santa Cruz says 40 percent more women are majoring in computer science.

It’s obvious that lots of emphasis is placed on how to get women into technology from the high school and college levels, but what about retaining the women code warriors already in IT? This is just as important, if not more so. I personally know three women who abandoned IT after their Y2K work and went on to very different careers. I suspect it was because of burnout, frustration, or both.

But technology has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. So have work environments -- for the better, I believe. IT is a great place for anyone to start or revive a career, including women. The benefits can be very attractive: more flexibility, transferrable skills that are in demand, and higher salaries than most other careers requiring a bachelor’s degree. And lastly, with the growing importance of technology in our daily lives, this profession offers more prestige and even a chance to make a difference in the world.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
mejiac   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/29/2012 4:23:53 PM
Woman in IT
Very Interesting Article.

It's funny... for my past jobs my bosses have all been woman, very talented and very professional, so it goes to show that I think one reason for the lack of participation on the womans side is perception.

Many woman are driven away from an IT career either by social pressure (in my mind at least, since most of us are geeks at heart) or by not knowing the huge benefits surrounding an IT degree.

I do agree that having a diversed environment does create sinergy, does providing more robust solutions.

I think educational institutions should focus on better marketting IT careers, showing more focus on the benefits side, and the fact that most young entreprenours belong to the IT world.
impactnow   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/23/2012 9:52:22 AM
Re: IT is cool

Birgit I agree that it is hard at times for women to be accepted in IT I became my IT based marketing career in the 90s as well and it is very different today. I think you have to be somewhat tenacious to succeed in any career that is primarily a mainstay of men but it can be done. I think t that having young children is difficult in many professions it is very rewarding but also very draining, especially in today's society where families are separated an there is not a grandma or aunt to help out. I think if companies offered women with young families more flexible work arrangements it would benefit them long term and short term.

Syerita Turner   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/22/2012 8:21:29 PM
Careers in IT: Women Please Apply
I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I once was a woman in IT. I obtained my Bachelor of IT degree and quickly went into the wonderful male world of IT. Just to find out that I was not cut out for the job as my personality couldn't cut it. What I mean by that is that I was too nice and not bitchy as most women in IT that I encountered were. I felt as though I had to change how I was and work twice as hard to prove myself one because I am a woman and two because I am a minority woman who is smart and talented. 

I say that to say it is very important for women to go into IT and I hope more women take that step. However, the world will never be ready for women to come into male dominated fields and take over because that is what really happens when us women focus on such a tedious and hard career goal. We take the bull by the ears and surpass all of whoever was working there and quickly become the enemy. I think that a shift in mindset will need to happen before women of my caliber and expertise decide to go for more satisfying and less stessful careers. 

I hope the men don't jump on me for this one but I had to tell it like it is. 


bnazarian   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/21/2012 10:20:34 AM
Re: IT is cool
@singlemud, I agree that works best, which I why I really hope that enterprises who aren't already enlightened accept reality and give employees at least flexible hours and the option to telecommute some days. It's not going to hinder productivity, it can only help I think. IT is a great place to be, it's where I'd be and maybe where I will go in the future. So many good things about it. 
User Ranking: Blogger
singlemud   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/21/2012 10:00:23 AM
Re: IT is cool
@bnazarian, that is very true. Another problem is that when kids come to the school age,  There will be other hectic jump in, such as after school activities, driving the kids around, or school volunteers.  usually, some one in a household should have a easy and flexiable job.
bnazarian   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/21/2012 9:44:58 AM
Re: IT is cool
@singlemud, I want to point out though that it's really just a short time in a woman's life where it's more difficult because of raising kids. Once kids are school age (age 5 or 6) there is more time to devote to work. Whether it's work from home or in an office setting. So no one should give up or be discouraged if they decide to have children. I know a lot of career women who share the child rearing with husbands who stay home part time or telecommute. It's a little hectic at times but doable especially as easy as it is now to communicate with management and other team members no matter where you are. 
User Ranking: Blogger
singlemud   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/20/2012 3:09:49 PM
Re: IT is cool
Great point. IT world changes so fast. Most IT guys have to learn the new technology every day, and work late to debug code.  It will be hard for women who are tied much more to home and feed the baby.
WaqasAltaf   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/19/2012 9:43:48 AM
Re: Working Environment

Reading discussion about cool and comfortable environment to work at, I thought what else would be cooler than to work at home. What is trendy in many industries esp. IT, is that home computing concept is widely spreading. Something for the housewives to consider. Also young high school girls, who eye themselves ending up housewives (by choice) and simultaneously also want to make a career in something with nice perks, should consider IT as an ideal career. With expected shortages being predicted, this can be another motivator for them as pay scales would tend to be reasonable if not high in the times to come. 
Steel2179   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/18/2012 7:28:28 PM
Re: Working Environment
Good point.  I think that it is important that you feel like you are working on team....that everyone is advancing toward a bigger goal.  It is a lot to drop a young woman into that environment and ask her to not only contribute, but make her own place on the team.  So much of what we do professionally is connected to what we do socially.  I think mentoring and programming help young women navigate professionally down the road.
bnazarian   Careers in IT: Women Please Apply   2/17/2012 11:37:09 AM
Re: IT is cool
@impactnow, it's getting better. I think the solution is make women feel more welcome and women should not shy away from doing what they really love to do. But I admit it's hard on both counts.

When I was trying to learn programming I had a group of friends already working in IT, plus people in the IT department where I worked and classmates in my programming class. I picked everyone's brain. There were guy friends in IT who were perfectly nice to me before I started taking a programming class and then as soon as I asked more intelligent questions of them, a couple of them insinuated I wouldn't make it through the class without help from male classmates.

I had male classmates offer to do my homework for me. I know it was painful for them to see me struggle but I was proud I did it all by myself. At work and other friends in IT were wonderful. They encouraged my learning, gave me resources, quizzed me for my upcoming tests and eventually I got invited to help out on projects and do more programming work at work.

Definitely I felt that for some men it was a problem for me to move into IT and a few women even too. That didn't dissuade me from pushing myself. I had a supportive boss and enough consultants encouraging me to keep going but another reason I think women at least in the 90's were less likely to stay in IT was the family thing.

Once I had kids, I couldn't tool around with Linux or stay late to learn Java programming. I was very excited how far I had come, but I was exhausted and drained. Now I kind of regret having dropped out, but it was nearly impossible for me to continue learning and advancing when I had babies and small kids. Some women make it work, I couldn't. Maybe if I could have telecommuted with today's technology part fo the time though, I might have been able to stay where I was. For that reason, I think it's better than ever before for women.  
User Ranking: Blogger
Page 1 / 3   >   >>

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Birgit Nazarian
Birgit Nazarian   6/4/2012   19 comments
Jumping out of bed and rushing to the office is a bad way to start your work, according to scientists studying cognitive psychology. Think about the typical morning routine for countless ...
Birgit Nazarian   5/21/2012   12 comments
Yup, you read that correctly. Every mom should get a tattoo while she's pregnant. No, not an anchor on the arm or a butterfly on the small of the back. This tattoo would go right on the ...
Birgit Nazarian   5/3/2012   16 comments
Career promotion in IT is often based on technical ability, but the higher up the ladder you climb, the more important soft skills become.
Birgit Nazarian   5/2/2012   40 comments
Education technology advocates here in the US are sure to be feeling a surge of envy after news was released recently about Poland's ambitious digital school program approved just weeks ...
Birgit Nazarian   4/10/2012   14 comments
With many public K-12 school districts cutting "extras" such as traditional field trips out of the annual budget, teachers have to come up with creative ways to keep students engaged in ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.