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Women in the IT Industry

Recently there has been more attention focused on women in the IT industry because there are so few. A 1998 Association for Computing Machinery report stated that women compose less than one third of the nation's computer scientists and programmers, barely twice that of 1988- less than half a million women holding only 20 percent of the jobs. This is, at least in part, explained by a 1997 Global Strategy Group poll that found that 49 percent of the college-bound females they interviewed said that the tech industry is too boring, difficult, or technical.

In fact, the majority of women in the IT field do not hold technology-related degrees; about half of those surveyed held bachelor's degrees in the humanities and social sciences. However, with the availability of jobs in the IT industry now, opportunities are not limited; skilled or unskilled, anyone can obtain an entry-level job with a little training in the industry. So why do women shy away from this industry? According to the, female, General Manager of Global Industries at IBM, girls need to be taught at an early age that engineering and computer science are more about problem solving than about "freckles and Coke-bottle glasses." If more women realized that common sense, troubleshooting, and problem solving are the main qualifications for understanding technology, there'd be a greater number of girls and women interested in technology. There's nothing about technology that makes a man better suited than a woman.

The women that are involved in the industry seem to be less interested in the job availability and high paycheck that comes with this field, and more concerned with their love of problem solving and their desire for a challenge. Another challenge these women must face is avoiding the hint of sexism that permeates the industry-as long as there are more men than women, this will be a problem. But, in the long run, gender-equality is improving. Promotions and salaries are largely even between men and women, and there is no glass ceiling, to speak of, in the dot-com world. The main problem is the lack of female role models available to push technology on the 21st century's feminine workforce-the need to get younger girls interested in technology.

Being a woman in this industry, however, does have its advantages. As a female, you stand out, so you don't have to work as hard to get noticed, and, in the name of diversity, you may have more opportunities to participate in and to branch out to other industry divisions than men will. It can also be helpful when it comes to dealing with female clients; women may be better adapted to make other women more comfortable with and to help other women understand the technology. The bottom line is that the IT industry needs more women; women are just as effective as men when it comes to the troubleshooting, problem solving, and common sense necessary to be successful within the field.


Schools to consider: