Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education IT

Coping Strategies for Women in IT 648

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the grow-a-pair-oh-wait dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Female workers are losing ground in the IT profession, reports Computerworld, citing statistics which show a sharp drop in the number of female CS grads since the 1980s, and a decline in the percentage of women in the IT profession since 2001. According to the article, causes include pervasive stereotypes and the locker-room atmosphere found in some IT shops — attitudes which some readers may recognize from the comments in a Slashdot thread last week. The IT professionals interviewed in the Computerworld article discuss a variety of strategies for coping. They range from trying to 'out-boy the boys' to watching what you say, as one Sun Microsystems executive describes:'It's not unusual to be the only woman at a meeting, she says, and because of that, there's often a tendency to remain silent unless you think you have something really remarkable to say. "As one member of a small group, you feel you have no right to be mediocre ... You're not just representing yourself; you're representing [females] with a capital F.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Coping Strategies for Women in IT

Comments Filter:
  • by BWJones (18351) * on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:33PM (#20131937) Homepage Journal
    Hrmmm,

    I say we just give any and all female hires shiny new Sig sidearms with a license to shoot anyone (especially upper management) that harasses them. Seriously though, as one who has had to instigate actions against individuals senior to myself for sexual harassment of colleagues, the issue of unwelcome environments is well known. Fortunately, things are getting progressively better as I have been seeing an uptick in the number of seriously qualified individuals who happen to be women among the alpha users of the IT community (PhD candidates in Computer Science). But in the interim, I would discourage women from feeling that they have to "out-boy the boys" as that behavior simply compounds the problem and makes legal issues more complex leading to the likelihood that if problems do arise, everybody gets fired. Besides, the type of person that would engage in locker-room behavior may in fact be encouraged by a woman stooping to that level. I would also encourage women to be as vocal as necessary in meetings and not reserve comments for those times when you think that what you say is representative of genius. Just do your job, be professional, ask questions when necessary and remember that you do not have to tolerate any bullshit that your male colleagues do not have to endure.

    • by Cheerio Boy (82178) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:41PM (#20132005) Homepage Journal
      FWIW I've seen exactly what you've seen as well and do my damnedest not to participate in making a bad environment.

      Honestly though I don't really care if someone in the I/T field is male or female as long as they can do the job. The moment they prove to me to be an idiot, regardless of gender, I have to start looking at them with a more critical eye. And I have met women who treat that as if they were being singled out when they truly aren't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420)
        And I have met women who treat that as if they were being singled out when they truly aren't.

        Can you blame them? They are not totally without cause in that analysis when the history of women in male dominated professions is considered in a more general sense. You may be the exception, but how do they know that?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Can you blame them?

          Sure, sometimes. When they fail to realize that I abuse everyone equally, I blame them for personalizing it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by servognome (738846)

        The moment they prove to me to be an idiot, regardless of gender, I have to start looking at them with a more critical eye. And I have met women who treat that as if they were being singled out when they truly aren't.

        I think the worry of many women is that individual screw-ups are magnified. There is enormous pressure in the enviroment that average is not good enough. If you have a company with 500 programmers she will be much more looked down upon being the 250th best programmer, than any other average j

    • by fm6 (162816) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:49PM (#20132091) Homepage Journal

      I say we just give any and all female hires shiny new Sig sidearms with a license to shoot anyone (especially upper management) that harasses them.
      I've heard many men make that joke, and no women. So you unintentionally makes a nasty point: a lot of office politics is fueled by simple, instinctive aggression — and the fact that women aren't as aggressive as men (by and large) has a lot to do with sexual harassment and other gender issues. A woman who stands up for herself (even without resorting to lethal force) is going against her own lifelong conditioning. She's also going to be rated by different standards than a man who behaves the same way.
      • by BWJones (18351) * on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:17PM (#20132407) Homepage Journal
        Actually, that was the crux of my point. The common (read: unintelligent) approach that many people take to resolving conflict is simple aggression. So my point/joke/jab was simply that perhaps we should level the playing field by giving license to women to simply take care of business. It's like that scene in Indiana Jones where the good Dr. Jones has skillfully dispatched aggressor after aggressor with testosterone, fists and brains only to come across some guy wielding dual swords that wants to engage in a little testosterone fueled display himself. Indy just shoots him and gets it over with....

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pthor1231 (885423)
          Dr. Jones had a raging case of diarrhea actually.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816)
          Excuse me? Why is shooting a guy less aggressive them fighting him with a whip? A non-aggressive solution would have been to run the other way. But of course, that's an unacceptable strategy when you're an Action Hero. In an action flick, all solutions involve aggression.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by pthor1231 (885423)
        I'm not sure I follow exactly what point you are trying to make. Are you saying that men should should go against their lifelong conditioning to better allow women to work in the office environment? But wouldn't this create the same problem as the current situation, simply with the roles reversed?
        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:39PM (#20133487) Homepage Journal
          "I'm not sure I follow exactly what point you are trying to make. Are you saying that men should should go against their lifelong conditioning to better allow women to work in the office environment? But wouldn't this create the same problem as the current situation, simply with the roles reversed?"

          But see? That's OK. The men have had it wrong all the time. They must once again, bend and change....to bury their natural instincts so that women can feel more comfy in a work situation.

          In fact, change everything to accomidate everyone's needs....in this new PC. world. No more locker room camaraderie for men in groups, keep to yourselves, watch your language....avoid things that previously made the group function and fun.

          I think I heard a really good one...that a muslim trying for a job in an American grocery store, refused to scan or handle in any way pork products. Now, I never heard the resolution of that one...did they hire a special person to come an scan pork products for him? Did they quit selling pork?

          I mean, good Lord....if you want to do a job...be prepared for the environment that is there. If you work in a sewer, expect it to stink. Grow some thicker skin, and just go in and do your job.

    • by Daishiman (698845) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:51PM (#20132111)

      Who told you that it's bullshit that male colleagues don't have to endure?

      I recall reading somewhere that as workplace equalty increases, men have come to see women as peers, and what that implies is that they are placed in a level game where the sorts of abuse that men perform on other men are being experienced by women. Women have more at stake now than they ever did, and what that means is that your average office bastard sees them as potential threats to their activities.

      At my workplace we have several women working in IT positions. They are all treated very well; the locker-room mentality only happens in male-only subgroups. The one reason why I think that there's not as many women as there could be is becase the job is simply not rewarding to most female personality types. I don't know how many want or can stand to be on-call, or handle high-stree meetings with enraged customers who want to see their servers working NOW. Not to say that women can't handle stress, just saying that the stress that emanates from an IT environment may not be the one they can handle best.

      If your biggest employment issue with females is that other employees treat them like crap, then you've either have the problem of asshole male employees (happens, but then again I wonder how the hell you're managing to have a decent IT infrastructure with those people), or submissive females, who are not few, and who end up meeting the same fat as submissive males.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:45PM (#20133555)
        Here is a little bit of Truth the left doesn't want you to know.

        from: http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2007/08/double-standar ds.html [blogspot.com]

        Here's some interesting news I read in the Star Tribune. In big cities, it seems that women's paychecks are outpacing men's:

                The study by Queens College demographer Andrew A. Beveridge shows that all women from ages 21 to 30 living in New York City and working full time made 117 percent of men's wages, or a median wage of $35,653, and even more in Dallas, 120 percent. Nationwide, that group of women made much less: 89 percent of the average full-time pay for men. The findings were first reported in Gotham Gazette, published online by the Citizens Union Foundation.


        The bad news for men?


                Though the analysis showed women making strides, it also showed that men were in some ways moving backward. Among all men -- including those with college degrees -- real wages, adjusted for inflation, have declined since 1970. And among full-time workers with advanced degrees, wages for men increased only marginally even as they soared for women. Nationally, men's wages in general declined while women's remained the same.


        The article quickly puts a kibosh on the good news for women by stating:

                Typically, women have fallen further behind men in earnings as they get older. That is because some women stop working altogether, work only part time or encounter a glass ceiling in promotions and raises.


        Well, if you stop working or work only part time, of course you don't make as much money--duh. What I find amusing or ridiculous--take your pick--is that many women's groups think women should make as much as men even if they have a family, don't work or work part-time. This is nothing but a sense of entitlement. And if women are single and working full time in the cities, then decide to have a family and move to small towns and work part-time or not at all, of course their wages will go down. That is called a trade-off, not necessarily discrimination.

        If men's wages are declining, is this ever called discrimination? No, of couse not. Does anyone care about the reasons that men's wages declined while women's stayed the same? No, probably not. What I find interesting or perhaps hypocritical is that if women earn more than men, the reasons given are justified--smugly, women are seen as go-getters who have advanced degrees with the gumption to move to the big city to avoid the country bumpkins. But if men earn more, it is often because of rampant gender discrimation and not because of particular circumstances that would cause one to earn more such as working harder and longer hours, going where the opportunities are ripe etc. If women start to pull away from men in the earning department, I wonder if we will see any interest in helping men to increase their earnings? I won't hold my breath.
      • by hackus (159037) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:48PM (#20134351) Homepage
        I will have to chime in here and say you raise some really good points.

        Most women especially hate the on call part.

        I.T. is not a fun job, lets face it if you are in any level of authority, you have lots of responsibility.

        I spend half my time trying to avoid disasters by planning infrastructure, and the other half of my time going to school and climbing the academic latter, and I am 40 years old now.

        I do not see this changing anytime soon.

        When I was a CIO I was under huge gorilla sized amounts of stress, and as the technical leader for my organization everyone turned to me as the "answer guy".

        That much attention and responsibility and dedication to ones job in all facets is not something the typical women likes to do.

        I think this is a social issue though, not a genetic one.

        Western society is trying to equalize that but it will be a couple more generations before women are born and are educated with the mindset required to really want to do I.T. work at the dame depth as males right now.

        Not a bad thing, women just are more interested in contributing in different areas at the moment than in the scientific or technical areas.

        Furthermore, I don't see it as a "shame" or a bad thing.

        -Hack
    • by Cally (10873) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:57PM (#20132183) Homepage
      Anecdote: my aunt read Pure & Applied Mathematics with Computing at Imperial College, London [imperial.ac.uk] -- (one of the most prestigious science & technology universities in the world, up there with MIT, Oxbridge, Caltech etc.) This was in the late 1960s and she was of course one of very few women on her course (or indeed at Imperial!)

      She then emigrated to the remote end of Ireland, where for 30 years or so she taught IT and computing a the local RTC (Regional Tech College.) She was telling me fairly recently that the level of casual sexism, and the air of intimidation and of it being a male domain meant that whereas 10 or 15 years ago there were actually more women/girls on the courses than men, it was now overwhelmingly male dominated. Of course she's done what she can to push that back and keep it open to women but... she's just retired.

      :(

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GooberToo (74388)
        She was telling me fairly recently that the level of casual sexism, and the air of intimidation and of it being a male domain meant that whereas 10 or 15 years ago there were actually more women/girls on the courses than men, it was now overwhelmingly male dominated.

        Of course she fails to see the obvious reasons. A lot has changed since the 60s; which really got rolling in the 40s. When she saw lots of women, lots of women had been given a free pass. Accordinly, lots of women were in lots of fields; dese
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:03PM (#20132247)
      In college I took a few archaeology courses. In all, men were in the minority; in one, I was the only man. How do women make it easier for men in female-dominated fields? What are women doing to increase the participation of men in, say, archaeology? I semi-seriously proposed (to another guy in the department) that we should start a "Society of Men Archaeologists". It would have been way smaller than SWE.

      Maybe being the odd man out back then has made me more tolerant today. Or maybe not. Who am I to say?

      Anyway, this does not make IT special; it's true in any field with an uneven sex ratio. They're just being sensationalist because they can. You don't see "Coping Strategies for Men in Archaeology" on archaeology websites.
      • Not entirely (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:05PM (#20133815) Homepage
        No, it doesn't apply equally both ways, and a lot of it has to do with how we got here.

        Back when the world was separated into "men's work" and "women's work", it was so because the general view was that women were not as capable as men. Those things that were classified as "men's work" from hunting to warmaking to running a business to performing surgery to studying math were seen not just as things a man should do, but as things that women were simply incapable of doing as well as a man. Whereas those things that were "women's work" were never seen as things that a man couldn't do. Men could clean and cook and knit they just wouldn't because that was "women's work" and the man should be using his superior capacities for grander pursuits like killing people from the next country over.

        So a man going into a woman-dominated field has to fight against the social stigma of going outside their gender-role. A woman not only has to fight the social stigma, they also have to fight the thinking behind that stigma which is that they aren't as capable of doing "manly" things. And if you've read any slashdot threads on this kind of subject before, you can easily see that this way of thinking is alive and well.

        There are of course exceptions. I think nursing was one of those areas where men were not just seen as outside their role (they should be the doctor, of course, with the subservient female nurse to assist them), but also as lacking the nurturing and compassionate instincts for the job.

        I really couldn't tell you where archaeology falls into this, or why there was a predominance of women. I'm also not saying by any means that you shouldn't try to increase male enrollment or that your SMA organization is ill-conceived. I'm just saying that there is a very real and valid reason why getting women into male-dominated fields is seen as both more important and more challenging than getting men into woman-dominated fields.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by apt142 (574425)

          There are of course exceptions. I think nursing was one of those areas where men were not just seen as outside their role (they should be the doctor, of course, with the subservient female nurse to assist them), but also as lacking the nurturing and compassionate instincts for the job.

          The very odd thing about nursing is while those obstacles exist for men, men often perform longer periods of service in these jobs. The "lack" of compassion allows as a buffer to burn-out and depression. Performance-wise,

    • are the root of much sexism from IT men. Yes there are other causes, like general asshattery, but I'd say insecurity leads the pack. Of course, the other causes tend to focus the attentions of the incompetent/insecure on sexism as an outlet for their aggression. Be professional, seek support, and generally outshine your pale movenist shig cow-orker. Make sure that management knows things go better when you're involved, but don't be the source of that awareness. Be nonchalant and modest about your abili
      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:10PM (#20133085) Homepage Journal
        Bingo. In every example of chauvinism I've witnessed (more in school than professionally), the chauvinist was vastly inferior to his target - in intellect, in talent, in appearance and in personal hygiene. It's essentially a form of bullying, much like racism, where the biggest losers latch on to some external hierarchy as a crutch for their self esteem, and god help the woman who proves herself superior (which, given the cultural bias they've already overcome, is pretty much always the case).
    • by thePsychologist (1062886) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:39PM (#20132725) Journal
      "be professional, ask questions when necessary and remember that you do not have to tolerate any bullshit that your male colleagues do not have to endure"

      That's a very male way of looking at something: you assume that you just have to be professional and go with the flow.

      Unfortunately the workplace (esp male dominated) often runs on competition and "winning", and getting things done in a very aggressive way. I'm not saying women can't handle that, but it's not a very friendly atmosphere, and I don't even like it myself (and I'm not a woman).

      The problem with this is that men and women have different styles of thinking. It's not black and white: women always do this and men do that, but in terms of solving problems women like the collaboration whereas men often see it as a means to an end. There are subtle sex differences that do make a difference. The vast majority of IT people are men.

      For instance, women tend to nod more when listening to a presentation to show that they are listening, and men tend to stare more and not make any gestures. Nodding can be interpreted as agreement when it's not. Women use "yes" more as a way of indicating the want for discussion, whereas men use "yes" as a "sounds good, now I'm leaving". These differences can lead to huge misunderstandings esp when the management is mostly male and almost everyone else is too.

      Add the social ineptitude of most people working in IT and it makes for a pretty damn cold and uninviting place, except for those who have similar traits.

      That's perhaps due to sex differences in interests as well, so I'd guess that IT will always have more guys, but the point is to make the environment as friendly as possibly for the women that actually do want to go into any male dominated field.

      The workplace is a complicated place with complicated social structures and politics. It's not jut about "I'm the boss, I say what goes".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by djdbass (1037730)
      Girls?
      We have one of those. Her communications are overly elaborate. I wonder if they're all like that...
    • by COMON$ (806135) * on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:05PM (#20133033) Journal
      I say we just give any and all female hires shiny new Sig sidearms with a license to shoot anyone (especially upper management) that harasses them.

      Even though you jest here are you suggesting that we give women special privileges in the IT Business world? I certainly hope not, having tutored both males and females in the CS field for a couple of years I found that the females were particularly gifted compared to males in the same class.

      I think a more important study here isn't looking at numbers but looking at how many females go into IT then drop out due to an uncomfortable atmosphere.

      This argument has been debated way too much, I don't think there is an issue in IT any more than there is an issue in the military, autobody shops, Department Stores, Support staff members (secretaries), Janitors, or any other profession that is tilted one way or another. I think what pisses off the feminists here is that IT is a well paid field and people want a bite of the pie and if the only way to do that is to get special privelages then go for it.

      Personally I loved talking to my female friends in college who started off in Engineering so they could get all the scholarships while they worked on there general courses. Or my american buddy who just happens to have a korean heritage, but raised by white americans from birth, in a white suburb, in middle class. Yet gets thousands of dollars to go to college as a minority.

      The solution here is not to grant special privelages to individuals the solution is the education of people already in the field to accept the minorities.

      It is just a peeve of my to hear about solutions to force people into fields rather than just letting things roll out the way they do, each gender has things they are better at, fact of life we will never be equal and thank goodness because if we were the world would crash. Each life is worth the same but all have different gifts. If you wish to debate this then go find a Nature vs Nuture forum.

    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:18PM (#20133195) Journal
      Just treat your female colleagues the same as you do your male ones: slap 'em on the ass and call 'em your bitch when you prove them wrong in something. What's so wrong with that?

      Gotta go, I have a meeting with HR, not sure what about. Shouldn't take long, though.
    • by Stiletto (12066) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:02PM (#20133767)
      Anyone who has ever witnessed an all-female sales office, and how everyone treats each other in THAT environment, is laughing hysterically at this thread, ney, at this entire article.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:35PM (#20131955) Journal

    McKeon eventually found a welcoming culture at The Chubb Corp., where she is now an application manager, but other women in IT simply leave the industry.
    Other female friendly IT companies include: There are tons of women friendly companies out there!
    • by EtoilePB (1087031) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:50PM (#20132099)
      And this is EXACTLY the kind of attitude that female IT workers encounter on the job. Sure, it's funny on Slashdot, but after months or years of putting up with it... well, let's just say it was old before it started, and thick-skinned barely begins to describe how a woman needs to be to succeed in the techie world.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Duffy13 (1135411)
        While someone may truly be offended at such humor or ridicule depending on the circumstances, what is commonly ignored is that men do this to each other constantly. You are not getting special treatment because you are female, we are in fact showing acceptance by treating you as "one of the guys". If you don't like it then we end up pampering, which ironically also gets us yelled at for not treating females as "one of the guys". Which honestly is just a small part of the whole men never understanding women
  • Don't forget.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turnipsatemybaby (648996) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:38PM (#20131971)
    Bear in mind also the expectations that most IT people work in. You are expected to put in ridiculous amounts of hours, sometimes be on call 24/7, all for pay that's in many cases only somewhat better than that of a janitor.

    No... women are leaving IT in droves because they're taking one look at what kind of career path they can look forward to and saying, "Screw this".
    • Re:Don't forget.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:54PM (#20132159) Homepage

      You are expected to put in ridiculous amounts of hours, sometimes be on call 24/7, all for pay that's in many cases only somewhat better than that of a janitor.

      Can we please put this one to rest? If you have a job that expects you to put in ridiculous hours, you have a crap job. Period. Any job that demands that you sacrifice your life for the sake of some company in which you have no stake is not sustainable. You will burn out and quit -- or worse, you will burn out, start passive-aggressively acting out, and get fired. IT geeks need to stop listing their long hours as a point of pride. Willingly putting yourself on the burnout track does not make you a superhero. Rather, it makes your life hell, and it makes every one of your coworkers' lives hell because you set unrealistic expectations and fail to voice your genuine employment concerns to management.

      • by keeboo (724305)
        If you have a job that expects you to put in ridiculous hours, you have a crap job.

        Good for you if you can choose jobs from a menu.
        Some people are not so lucky and, still, they have to eat.
      • I can only talk from my own experience as an IT Manager for a medium sized company, and obviously don't have the same situation as everyone else. However, it's not that we're expected to work long hours, or be on call 24/7, it's that we're expected to do all facets of the job. That includes fixing the CEOs Outlook when he breaks something again, as well as install the latest hotfix to the business critical CRM application server. Number 1 happens at 8am eastern, number 2 cannot be done until after close
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger (819476)
      Well, actually, I left IT just because I felt like there wasn't a whole heck of a lot more that interested me about the field. I was well along the management track and decided that other fields were much more interesting to me.

      Frankly, if you're on call 24/7 for janitor pay you're either a doormat, not very skilled or not very good at marketing yourself. Figure out which it is and try to fix it.
  • Different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:42PM (#20132011)
    Well, I've also noticed that there isn't a good representation of women in garbage collection force either. Oh no, they're also under-represented in the mines!

    Won't somebody think of the childr...err...women!

    Maybe, just maybe, the different genders gravitate to the fields that they like. Or, gasp, are suited for.

    That's not to say that women aren't suited for the IT field. Men and women are different, even if the politically correct people don't want you to believe it. So it makes sense that they just might be predisposed to liking different things...including professions.

    But forget that, let's just force the different genders into the professions that politically correct-driven math says that they should be, and not what they want to be in.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iknownuttin (1099999)
      Well, I've also noticed that there isn't a good representation of women in garbage collection force either. Oh no, they're also under-represented in the mines!

      absolutely! And I want mention the under representation of men among mothers. Why is there this prejudice against men having babies? I would love to give birth, but I can't. I'm not allowed to. I want to sue, but noooooooooo! I'm a man and men have it made and therefore my case won't go to court. And is it allowed for my wife to impregnate me? Nooooo

    • Re:Different (Score:5, Insightful)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:07PM (#20132301) Homepage Journal

      Men and women are different, even if the politically correct people don't want you to believe it


      Now don't mod him down just because you don't agree with him. He's right, at least partially. Men and women are not only built differently, they think differently. He's absolutely, positively right. Studies show that men are more linear thinkers while women tend to think in circular patterns. Men are more big-picture thinkers, women pay more attention to detail.

      This is not wrong. This is 100% right.

      Now, are women less interested in IT? I doubt it. I personally know many women in the IT field, including many that are in it because they have always had a sincere interest in IT. I've also known several women who said they'd be interested in IT, if only they knew more about computers.

      The fact is that girls and young women are not encouraged to pursue IT or computer science, so they don't. Career women are pointed towards administrative, HR, or other areas where women dominate. This isn't just due to interest, it's due to societal pressure on them to not learn tech skills because appearing too geeky would make them unattractive or get them to be socially shunned.

      • "while women tend to think in circular patterns."

        Maybe Lisp can finally get a foot hold... Of course since women are also better at writing and grammar, they might question why they have to use so many parenthesis.
    • Re:Different (Score:5, Informative)

      by EtoilePB (1087031) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:15PM (#20132385)
      Except the field really is hostile to women who WANT to be in it. I've come in to a room because someone asked for support with their PC, and been told to leave because they're expecting "the tech guy." I can't possibly know what I'm doing, you see, because I have X chromosomes and sometimes wear skirts.

      A minority? Sure, I can live with being a minority. I'm pretty used to it. And I know full well my interests and talents skew differently than those of most women I know. But that doesn't mean I should be treated with hostility simply for existing.
      • by pembo13 (770295)
        That seems to be less about being in IT, and more about cognitive dissonance.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by porcupine8 (816071)
        The responses to your comment are causing me to give up on this story/thread completely. Obviously, since men are not always treated perfectly, women must be completely overreacting to everything.

        I'm just not even going to go into it... All I want to know is, have any of these guys for one second ever had to stop and consider what the impact of having a child will be on their career? Whether or not they have kids now, did it ever even cross their minds to wonder? Most guys I know, it's not even a blip on

        • Re:Different (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonamused Cow-herd (614126) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @11:29AM (#20142453)

          Most guys I know, it's not even a blip on their radar, it's just not something that comes to mind when they think about having kids.

          Wow, are you serious? I'd say it's probably one of the top 3 considerations for men when even _thinking_ about having a child. I'm not in a place where I'd want a child even remotely (24 with a competitive, fast-track job), but of course I've considered what the impact of having children would be on my career. Truth is, it would be disastrous, and I definitely wouldn't be able to continue on the track I'm on.

          Graduate school? Right out. Working exceptionally long hours, traveling? Not unless I wanted to screw up my children as badly as everyone else in America seems happy to. I would say it is easily the #1 consideration against having children for me right now. I certainly have the money, the security, the opportunity, and the social pressure to start down that path, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out what the effect of a child on a working father's career is.

          Most women that I know, on the other hand (almost all of my friends are women) -- they are genuinely eager to leave the work force and have kids. They're not exclaiming "Oh no,I might miss out on this career opportunity if I have a kid," they're saying "ugh, work is terrible, I can't wait to get married and have babies." That last is almost an exact quote.

          We're not so different, you and I!
    • Re:Different (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Copid (137416) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:32PM (#20132637)
      There's a difference between not being adept at a job because you physically can't haul 300 pounds of coal and not being happy in a job because your coworkers make your job intolerable. One of them is due to honest to god differences in natural aptitude and the other is just the failure of employees to act professionally.
  • Stereotypes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kaiwai (765866) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:42PM (#20132013)
    I've worked in IT and a number of other 'male dominated jobs' and its interesting to see how those females who are successful actually knuckle down and get on with work - those who sit around and whine about the injustices of the world simply come off as complainers with the "I should get promoted because I'm a....". I've seen it before, females being over looked for a job, then blaming the 'old boys club' when in reality they ignore the fact that 100s of men were looked over for the job as well - are they going to jump up and lay claim because of their hair colour, skin colour, eye colour, car colour or something else stopped them from moving up? Simply expecting to get the job because you happened to get the 'highest qualified' happens to ignore the reality of how people are selected for promotion.

    Just as a side note; for females who are reading - want to know how to get on with your male collegues - take the piss, have fun, take the piss out of yourself, go out to the pub and drink with the boys - and maybe realise that if you present yourself as an equal rather than a 'weak and frail women' you might actually get included as 'one of the boys'. Socialising is the key.

    I mean, I've worked in female dominated jobs, and believe me - females do not make it easy for males to merge themselves into the company culture. Heck, they're not even nice to their own sex! my sister was in a very similar situation - her rule, never work with females. This is a female who can't stand working with females. I think that speaks volumes.

    When there are millions of females 'getting on' in male dominated situations, I think those who do complain have no legs to stand on. Like I've said, I've worked in male dominated jobs, and those females who do knuckle down and work - socialise and act like 'one of the boys' actually enjoy themselves.

    Don't try to 'feminise' the work place - realise that its rome, and its up to you 'to do as the romans do'
    • Re:Stereotypes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nitekite (947984) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:18PM (#20132419)
      I am a woman, and I love slashdot. But threads like this and especially comments like this really disappoint me. Every day women in tech fields experience little degrading things: people talking to our boobs, assuming that we are secretaries, shouting us down, and paying us less. We do not present ourselves as 'weak and frail' women. We simply present ourselves as the women that we are. It is not our responsibility to act like one of the boys. It is the responsibility of men to realize that we are not one of the boys, but we are fellow humans, and as such have every right to do the jobs we love and be respected while we do it.
      • Re:Stereotypes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:32PM (#20132633)

        and be respected while we do it.

        There are two different meanings for the word "respect". Women should certainly be respected as in, not treated condescendingly, not being treated as a potential mate more than as a coworker, etc.

        But "respect" as in, "I respect his/her coding skills." or "I respect the way he/she can motivate his/her underlings." must be earned, regardless of one's sex.

      • Re:Stereotypes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:35PM (#20133447) Journal

        Every day women in tech fields experience little degrading things: people talking to our boobs, assuming that we are secretaries, shouting us down, and paying us less.

        I'm not sure that this is unique to tech, if it really still exists and is as bad as you say it is.

        For example: Have you actually been "shouted down"? If that ever happened to me, in any job that doesn't directly involve shouting, I'd be gone.

        Assuming you're a secretary? Takes but a moment to correct that one. Or find a place with a semi-casual dress code and start wearing ThinkGeek shirts to work. At least then, if they're staring at your boobs, they'll also be staring at "Bow before me, for I am root."

        It is not our responsibility to act like one of the boys.

        If you want to be socially accepted in any group, you're going to have to do something.

        It doesn't mean you have to "act like one of the boys." It does mean you have to loosen up, learn to take a joke (even a *gasp* dirty joke), and so on. It means you have to act like you belong.

        It is the responsibility of men to realize that we are not one of the boys, but we are fellow humans, and as such have every right to do the jobs we love and be respected while we do it.

        No one gets respect automatically. You have to earn it.

        And it doesn't matter whose responsibility it is. If they won't magically behave the way you want them to, then you're the one who has to change -- because at that point, if you don't change, no one will.

        I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it just is what it is. No matter how much you whine on Slashdot, geeks are going to continue to stare at your boobs until you force them to respect your intellect, your sense of humor, your personality.

        And it is possible for you to demand respect, but you do it by acting like a really and truly interesting human, and not playing the female victim all the time. You may really be a victim, but stop wallowing in it and do something about it. (And do it yourself, don't talk to the boss -- tattling is bad, no matter what social group you're in.)

        I suspect that if you can make that work, you wouldn't have anything to complain about on Slashdot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lena_10326 (1100441)

          For example: Have you actually been "shouted down"? If that ever happened to me, in any job that doesn't directly involve shouting, I'd be gone.

          You are male. Men are fearful of shouting down other men so it doesn't happen to you. Understand? Besides, shouting down someone isn't necessarily screaming at the top your lungs. It can be someone simply talking over your voice as if you're not there even though you started speaking first. That happens a lot in group meetings, so if you quit over that you'll be c

    • Don't try to 'feminise' the work place - realize that its Rome, and its up to you 'to do as the romans do'

      Of course some people will never get it...
      Just because your getting rid of the male locker room humor doesn't mean your 'feminise' the workplace. You can find a happy medium between the two or at least try.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ggKimmieGal (982958)
      I think you should have actually read that article instead of just assuming you understand the problem with women in IT. If you had read it, you would have discovered you were wrong. We have no problem fitting in. We feel awkward at times for sure, but fitting in socially isn't a problem. Almost all of the women directly said that it was the hours that made the job unappealing. And who can blame them!!! Honestly, the IT world asks the impossible of women! We want to be mothers. That's a 24/7 job.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheNicestGuy (1035854)

      for females who are reading - want to know how to get on with your male collegues - take the piss, have fun, take the piss out of yourself, go out to the pub and drink with the boys - and maybe realise that if you present yourself as an equal rather than a 'weak and frail women' you might actually get included as 'one of the boys'. Socialising is the key.

      And here I thought it was only a problem in Korea [nytimes.com]

      All right, I'll bite. Why on God's green earth should a woman need or want to be included as "one of the boys"? You're saying in so many words that it's a man's world, woman have to learn to live in it? And you don't see a problem with that? Well, I sure as hell do. Let's flip this around for a second.

      In my previous job, I was the lone IT/office support worker for a six-or-seven employee non-profit. The one other man left after I was there a few months, s

  • Here's how to cope in IT as a woman: Be Pretty!

    Its kinda sad, but true. I've worked in IT for 10 years. Of the dozen or so women I've worked with the successful ones are attractive (or sometimes slutty instead). The ones that are less than attractive seem to have a more difficult time.

    Dont get me wrong I've seen a couple non-attractive women who REALLY know their stuff do very well. And I've never seen an attractive bimbo get far in IT. However for the middle-of-the-line types, the attractiv
  • Errr, no... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:48PM (#20132075) Journal
    ...citing statistics which show a sharp drop in the number of female CS grads since the 1980s...

    Actually, they show a sharp drop in the percentage of female CS grads. I'd bet that the number is way up since 1985.

    Slashdot, as always, does its part to demonstrate that men aren't so great at math either...

  • I don't see a problem. Quite obviously, IT doesn't appeal to women? We have one female member in the development team where I work. She's a very competent Oracle DBA/Developer, and it doesn't seem to me that she may feel isolated (she gets on well with everyone). In fact, there are more Women in the Testing department that Men. What does that tell us? (absolutely nothing).

    Whilst it'd be great to have more Women to work with, why is everyone throwing a sh*t-fit over it?
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:50PM (#20132103)
    If the woman interviewed really believes that
    "you're representing [females] with a capital F"

    Then I'd say she has an issue. My personal experience of working with a lot of women (and yes, even more men) is that if people of either gender behave in a straightforward way, they'll be treated by the vast majority of their co-workers in an appropriate manner.

    If someone starts to think they're representing more than themselves, maybe they need to look at their own self-image.

    • Actually... I have heard comments along the lines of "We had a woman here before, but she didn't work out..." when I've gone into interview at all-male shops. Some people do, in fact, assume that all people who share a particular trait (skin color, gender, religion, whatever) will be similar in other respects, foolish as that sounds. That kind of stupidity - and it *IS* stupidity since the trait in question has absolutely nothing to do with the ability to do a job - does exist and is much more common than m
  • .. but a good few of my female colleagues who do technical stuff regularly mass-email amusing porn and are the first to point out and make up innunendo. It works just fine.
  • Slashdot... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xeth (614132)
    ...has never produced a useful or even tolerable story about women. These replies practically write themselves, and the impact of the paltry few who have any actual experience ia quickly overwhelmed by the torrent of horrifically juvenile +5 funny comments.
  • Why is this advice so very, very generic? Does it indicate that there really isn't a definition of the issue, or that there's just no good advice for it. Observe:

    Advice: You can balance an IT career with your home life, but it means making choices that are true to your priorities and understanding the trade-offs. "Having it all" is a fantasy.

    True for all humans everywhere.

    Advice: Join a networking group specifically geared for [your peers], to meet people in similar circumstances who can support one another.

    Um, duh.

    Advice: [People] in senior IT positions have grappled with issues similar to yours. Find a [person] in a leadership IT role who can be your role model or mentor.

    Again, totally obvious.

    Advice: Be very clear with your employer on your priorities and the schedule that works best for you. The same goes for your family. Ask them for help in making changes that will work better for you. For many [professionals], it takes courage, personally and professionally, to tell people you need help.

    Completely simple, straightforward statement.

    Am I missing something?

  • kids (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icepick72 (834363) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:57PM (#20132187)
    I'm a man, have worked in the IT industry as a programmer/analyst and taught courses around the technologies I've used. In my experience women tend to cope better than men in the field. Women are often more level-headed, more organized, methodical and devoted to the cause.
    I prefer to have women bosses and administrators.
    The largest problem I've seen for women is having families because they are stuck with bearing the kids -- that's when women get taken out of the loop. There are always exceptions but often the women -- having born the kids -- often become comparatively more family-oriented than the man who will keep pushing through the industry and stay on top of things. The IT business moves fast. Having a kid can cause you to effectively be taken out of the race. No matter how much it sucks I've seen it happen a lot.
    The biological clock factor doesn't help either because you have a limited time, often which could be peak career time, to have kids.
  • ... was to treat people as allies right from the get-go. No need to be confrontational just to stake your claim, no need to be ingratiating, no need to be anything but yourself. In every environment I've been in, this strategy has worked wonders for me. The few hostile people who are to be found in any environment will generally be vastly outnumbered by people who are either actively friendly or just want to avoid drama, and making allies out of the majority of people will tend to make it very, very difficu
  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:02PM (#20132235) Journal

    If you want to increase the number of Women in IT I suggest changing your focus. Rather than looking to colleges, try recruiting grade school teachers. They're used to dealing with people who have underdeveloped social skills. At a previous job we had 2 former school teachers they were both able to deal.

  • Departments (Score:2, Informative)

    by NeoTerra (986979)
    In our IT department, the females hold a majority, 4 to 3. Our Helpdesk (which is counted separate...don't know why) is all female, with 5 of them. The makeup of this department is a lot different than any I have worked in before. The telecom and electronics is all male, still, but the total comes out to be 8 to 7 in the favor of females between the three areas.

    The article does make some good points. I've seen this in the college level, where the female students just didn't seem to fit in with the res
  • by Etherwalk (681268) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:11PM (#20132341)
    Can be very different--if I remember the studies at my alma mater, they found that more women were in tech before the dot.com bubble burst, and the burst had a disproportionate effect, because a larger percentage of the women in tech were interested in it because it was a good thing to do from a career-planning standpoint, while the guys tended to be in it because they loved (or liked) doing it. What stayed fairly stable, I think, was the number of interdisciplinary female students--women in other fields (usually hard sciences) who wanted to have the comp sci background that would be useful for them in their disciplines.
  • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:17PM (#20132397) Homepage
    ...remain silent unless you think you have something really remarkable to say

    Shouldn't meeting be like this? Otherwise they go on for hours and hours without much being accomplished. Also, if you think your corp hired someone mediocre when they hired you, you really got more to worry about...
  • I've always dreamed about being a bikini and bra model. But because I'm a man, the industry is treating my unfairly, and I could never work in my field, and any attempt was met with cruel ridicule and attacks.

    Where are the articles for coping with that, huh :( ?
  • So we get this out of the way: Erhm...

    "The last time I checked, the majority of pages on the web were actually concerned with women. Or, rather, displaying them."

    So. While I dodge now the slings and arrows of the feminists out there, let's try to find out what's going wrong here. I mean, we "geeks" pride ourselves that we don't fall for stereotypes, that we don't care about what a person looks like, or how he dresses, but suddenly, when facing a female of the species, everything's forgotten and we actually
  • Women never had much ground in IT. At least in my country. Not because they are dumb, or were handicapped by employers. Women are simply disinterested in computers. Yeah, there are exceptions, but exceptions make up a very small percentage. Back in school, we had 1/3 girls of the class, some said they will show the boys how good are they in CS. None of them remained in the field. Not all of the men either, but roughly half of us are still programmers. 95% of the women are simply bored with programming, if t
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:23PM (#20132493) Homepage
    My wife is a software engineer, and a very good one. She hates working with most women, and this is why she's told me as such:

    1) They're catty.
    2) They often use the power of the pussy to get out of doing real work.
    3) Many of them are there just because someone pushed them into working in IT.
    4) Did I mention that many of them are extremely insecure and often viciously attack other women far worse than the men would ever even conceive of doing?

    All of the women around me are the "intelligent, strong, independent women" that feminists talk about. Growing up around them, and then being exposed to almost nothing but "normal women" at a liberal arts college made me realize that the personality difference is hard-wired. They're not what women generally are, and that's ok. However, that realization made me have to face the fact that most women should be nowhere near anything technical, anymore than most men should be around a daycare job.

    Call me a misogynist if you want, but clearly I am not afraid to simultaneously hold "retrograde views" on women, while being happily married to a woman who has several years on me professionally and makes more than I do at this point. The truth is, if you need to cope with your job, you have no business being there. Either it's the wrong environment or the wrong profession, and for most women, it's the latter.
    • by MarsDefenseMinister (738128) <dallapieta80@gmail.com> on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:37PM (#20133477) Homepage Journal
      I'm not exactly sure what you mean by some of your comments, but let me run my experience by you and tell me if this is what you mean.

      I'm 38. I was raised to treat everybody equally. I don't trash talk others, and I paid the women who worked for me equally to the men. I gave nobody special favors, and I was nice to everybody.

      But I've noticed that women just a few years older than me seemed incapable of believing that my statements in the last paragraph were true. They were mean, never smiled, treated me like a child, expected special treatment when their kids were sick, and so on. My policy was that if your kid was sick, you could take a sick day once a month. Any more than that, you had to make it up or lose the pay. I thought it was pretty generous, and it was the same for the guys too.

      But what I got was a bunch of angry women treating me like I was Hitler, because they had to take care of their sick kids for more than a day a month. Excuse me, but I am not Hitler because you can't work it out with your husband that you *share* responsibility for the brat. If your husband makes you clean house, cook dinner, earn a paycheck, stay home with the kids, and suck his dick, it's not MY fault.

      I'm not oppressing you, and it won't kill you to smile, tell jokes, and just quit scowling at every man in the office.

      Is that what you meant?

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:17PM (#20133967) Homepage

        My policy was that if your kid was sick, you could take a sick day once a month. Any more than that, you had to make it up or lose the pay.

        I'm a guy, and it kind of does sound like you were Hitler. Suppose both the husband and wife worked for you. Then they would have a grand total of two days a month to take care of their sick children. Suppose your employee was unmarried -- suppose her husband died in Iraq. You would be placing her at a disadvantage vs. all your other, married employees (who would have the option of balancing, the way you suggest). On the whole, your policy sounds unfair and, with the realities of our society, clearly gender-biased toward men (who are less likely to be single parents or, indeed, be expected to take care of the kids).

        Children get sick. Chicken pox takes about a week to run through. No, it's not life-threatening, but it's just not appropriate to leave a six-year-old at home, alone, unsupervised, with a fever, for a week. What would you propose a parent do? Presumably you paid your employees enough to hire a babysitter for 40 hours?

  • That's easy. Just leave wet towels on the floor and fart a lot.
  • by NJVil (154697) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:27PM (#20132559)
    Never did I think I would somehow get around to submitting a story that would be accepted by the editors. Never in a thousand years did I think any comment of mine would be cited in a story... especially by CmdrTaco himself. I am truly honored.

    Seriously, the irony (or technosocial fiasco if you prefer to look at it that way) of electronic talking Barbie back in 1994 was one of those memorable moments for me because I had just started teaching. Between "Math is hard" and "Let's go shopping" my students and I shared many classroom discussions over related topics (stereotyping, bias, patronizing comments, etc.).
  • Why should women be encouraged to work in a field where jobs keep getting outsourced to Elbonia or whichever random country the bosses think of next?

    Because women are more willing to settle for lower salaries? While that's a _fact_ (go google for it), lower salaries, strange hours, higher chances of being outsourced are not helpful to women (or men anyway).

    So to the women out there, only go into IT if you are really interested (or you get a great offer) - it's not the worst career path but it's not that gre
  • by xdancergirlx (872890) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:34PM (#20132653)
    to leave. I have an engineering degree and am/was good a programming, design, etc. I programed on some open source projects under a male pseudonym so I wouldn't have to be treated like "whoa! a cool geek chick" but as a person. I quit in a large part because of the gender dynamics... you can see in these comments that the men who are appearing to be "supportive" of women in IT are still emphasizing the women who are able to outshine boys, are hot, etc. Even through my degree I felt like 24/7 I had to prove I had a right to be there. Sometimes the gender environment is more than competitive like this, it is hostile and abusive. I could only take it for so long, I quit, I am much happier than I was then. I love tech stuff, I miss it, I still program, I still do little things now and then, I am still good at it, it is just that I don't want to be fighting my whole life.

    You can say all the biological determinism (yeah right, men are biologically programmed to be in IT... ugh) stuff you want, the reality is there is a major social bias. Some of it is the whole environment from top to bottom, the solution isn't just to have some postercard companies hiring 20% female workers, it require a much larger shift than that, a shift in people's willingness to engage with a gender analysis. Like, even if you are "a nice guy" or you "support women in IT", maybe you have certain behaviours and ways of organizing/managing/participating that alienate women and you need to address them personally. Maybe you need to criticize your male peers when you are talking in the washroom (er. locker room) What do you expect of your women co-workers? There are lots of men who are completely incompetent in IT but manage to have full financially rewarding careers in it, is that true for women?

    I don't know how to bring it about but it requires men from all levels of the workplace to be able to critique themselves and the work environment and be willing to change, not just get all confused when they see the stats. It isn't really a discussion if it's a problem, or why it's a problem. We, as women in tech, are telling you there is a major problem and there are many many eloquent papers/reports/studies/etc. that explain what that problem is and that suggest some strategies to approach it. Men can call us whiners for pointing it out, or they swallow their ego and start trying to address the issues.
    • Ladies? (Score:3, Informative)

      by overshoot (39700)
      IMHO we're dealing with the blind and the elephant here.

      Not to discount your views, but $DAUGHTER is doing graduate work in exactly this subject (sociology of gender in the technology workplace) and none of the simple answers seem to hold water. It's a real puzzlement.

      OTOH, I'll tell you now that if you contact her (/. DarlingDaughter) she'll be very interested in what you have to tell her.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I programed on some open source projects under a male pseudonym so I wouldn't have to be treated like "whoa! a cool geek chick" but as a person.

      With the skills you listed, I'm not sure how you can escape that "geek chick" stereotype. So why wouldn't you want to have recognition for what you've done?

      Even through my degree I felt like 24/7 I had to prove I had a right to be there.

      Yeah, welcome to the world. Life's a bitch, ain't it?

      I'm a guy, and I feel like 24/7 I have to prove I have a right to be here,

  • by mschuyler (197441) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:50PM (#20132865) Homepage Journal
    It could be that women are not 'losing ground' so much as 'wising up' to the fact that a career in IT sucks. You are expected to be God all the time, yet work, paradoxically, ungodlike hours. You are responsible for everything working correctly to the second. If it doesn't, the company stops working and starts bitching. You never have enough time to do excellent quality work, so you settle for what works and just gets you by. You have impossible deadlines set by people who have no idea what it takes because it 'sounds simple.' You work with end users who, by and large, have no idea what they are doing computer wise, couldn't care less, and blame you for having to do difficult things like, umm, reboot. Plus an IT career rarely leads to promotion to the Board Room or excellent salaries. Face it, many times being in IT is like being a Technological Janitor.

    It could be that women, even if they are attracted to technology, see what a terrible quality of life is to be had in IT and opt out. Women don't go into IT because they are too smart to fall for it.
  • by Hao Wu (652581) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:51PM (#20132879) Homepage
    "Coping Strategies For Women in IT" --> Strategies for Coping With Women in IT

  • by IronChef (164482) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:03PM (#20133005) Homepage
    I work in a somewhat high tech industry. Throughout my career, there haven't been a lot of women in my workplaces. No surprise.

    All of them worked like anyone else. They all seemed to be treated just fine. And most of them were management, too... VPs on down to various sorts of middle management.

    I've never seen the "glass ceiling." To the contrary, I've seen a disproportionate number of women handing out the orders, when compared to their population. I've never seen a low-ranked woman busting her ass 24 hours a day to be "taken seriously."

    I realize this is an anecdote and not data.
  • by thedbp (443047) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:44PM (#20133545)
    If women and men are truly equal, then we can stop worrying about parity between the sexes in any given profession. Much like the failed and misguided notion of affirmative action, to keep track of, and actually worry about, the amount of females vs. males in a given profession is disingenuous and misleading.

    For instance, how come we aren't worried about a lack of female lion tamers? A lack of asian sports car drivers? A lack of male midwives?

    If we are going to be a truly egalitarian society, we need to stop separating people out into groups based on something as silly and inconsequential as what sex organs somebody has. What's next, an article decrying the lack of green-eyed, brown-haired bellhops?

    Women: You're not representing anyone but yourself. Men really don't look at one woman and judge your entire sex based on that one person. That is a misconception you have, its all in your head. Get over yourselves. Just do your job to the best of your ability. Same goes for all you "i'm being held back by my race" people. Maybe if you concentrated on your job and improving your skills, and spent less time worrying about abstract concepts like whether you are being viewed as a representative of your demographic, you'd find more people around you concentrate on your job and your skills.

    Where are all the albino theatre ticket takers, anyway?!?!
  • by jenns (571323) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:55PM (#20133675) Journal
    I have been an IT Director for 5 years, and I came up through a more traditionally "female" way (no, not sleeping my way there, get your mind out of the gutter)--I worked in training and applications support before hitting the top role. I learned the networking side as well, because I followed around the network engineer when no one would show up to my training classes. (gosh, I was an ABYSMAL trainer--I dislike repeating myself.

    Two years ago, I decided to get my pointy-haired-boss on and go to business school. I elected to go to the only all-female MBA program in the country. Why? Because the biggest weakness I had was that I did not know how to deal with *women* in the work environment, and my boss was (and still is) a woman.

    It's not easy to be in IT regardless of your gender. If you dislike foul language, well, good luck--I've thrown my share of f-bombs around when firmwide printing dies or the HVAC springs a leak and pours water through my servers and switches. Do you hate being around people who are angry? Heaven forbid you ever answer a support call. Do you like a complete night's sleep every night? Well, don't take a job that touches a data center or users who work in different time zones (don't have kids, either).

    Because of IT's difficulty, we behave differently. We have a harder edge, but we laugh more as well. The jokes might be off-color or at someone's expense, but without the laugh, there's no pressure valve. Most of us drink fairly heavily, because we don't have much downtime and enjoy the relaxant effect of EtOH. Now, I don't know if we behave differently because we are predominantly male, or if we have different pressures, but most of us do behave this way.

    Now add in technology's complexity, and you have a complicated situation. Most folks are in IT because we think (or at least used to think!) that technology is really cool. Not everyone does so. And, frankly, little boys are socialized to think technology=cool much more than little girls are. We are a product of our upbringing to some extent.

    So how do I make IT work for women? For anyone? It's a question of alignment. If who you want to be aligns with your work environment, then stay. If something has to change and you can change it, do so and stay. If not, leave your job, or leave the industry, if you have the freedom to do so. If you do not have the freedom? Well, have a drink...

    • by tknd (979052) on Monday August 06, 2007 @06:32PM (#20135547)

      And, frankly, little boys are socialized to think technology=cool much more than little girls are. We are a product of our upbringing to some extent.

      That is the problem. Our society encourages the girls to play with barbie, dolls, and tea pots while the boy gets lego bricks, plastic water guns, and skateboards. Until it is solved at that level, issues like this will always come up.

  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:57PM (#20133705) Homepage
    I have worked with many women in IT over my 14 years, and with the exception of *1* they all were inferior in knowledge and skills. I know it is anecdotal and just my experience but it is what it is. I'm not talking about minor deficiencies either, but huge, glaring gaps in knowledge/skills. In college anytime I had a female in my group for a project they tended to have to be carried through. The one skilled one could work circles around anyone I've ever worked with in Unix and scripting. FWIW. (I have no problem with women in IT, and this post is not meant to be negative just my personal experience)
  • Here's an idea.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CFTM (513264) on Monday August 06, 2007 @04:45PM (#20134327)
    A lot of this crap about being "predisposed" to one field or another is complete hooey to me. We, as in the slashdot community, should pull our collective heads out of asses and STOP applying our own personal experiences to a large subset of people. SOME women are predisposed to IT Jobs just as SOME men are. Gender, I would wager and heavily, has little or nothing to do with it and social norms has a much larger role.

    A woman's brain is just as capable of making an IT-Type decision as a man's brain; let's stop pointing to one individual and going "See, she's can't do it therefore no woman can" we just look stupid.
  • I don't buy it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday August 06, 2007 @05:33PM (#20134865) Journal
    I am a male worker in a small (~40) IT company. We have three female developers for approximately 30 male devs. I know some female engineers from my school who are in the same situation. All of them said it was very enjoyable to work in these conditions. Granted, sometimes some locker-room jokes fly around, but in their opinion, it is far more enjoyable than the backstabbing rumor culture they have experienced in feminine environments.

    I don't think that the environment scares women enough to chose a different career path. I think the answer lies in a more cultural factor. Studies have proved that parents are unconsciously biased in the way they explained something to their kids. They emphasize the emotional aspect when talking to girls "Isn't it beautiful ? Wouldn't you like to have one ?" and the rational aspect when talking to boys "Isn't it beautiful ? Do you understand how it works ?". Making boys more technically inclined. In fact, when you study tastes of secondary school students, girls feel more uncomfortable with science than boys. I am sure most of us remember this trend. Girls are supposed to be more into literature.

    You can not act as a colleague, you can act as a parent. Girls aren't naturally repelled by technology, they mainly are because their parents think this is how a normal girl behaves.

I have ways of making money that you know nothing of. -- John D. Rockefeller

Working...