There are always stories and reports telling us that there are not enough women working in technology. The UK's technology trade association, Intellect, reports that, although women comprise almost half of the UK workforce, only one in five IT professionals is female, and the sector has lost nearly three times more women than men since 2001.
But what about the women that do work in IT? What effect does being a part of this minority group have on their IT careers?
Women In Technology recently surveyed 167 female technologists and found that only a mere three per cent believed that their gender makes it easier for them to succeed. A quarter stated that being a woman was irrelevant to their success, with views like: "There will always be stumbling blocks, but it's more your own determination and motivation that contributes to your success."
Many of the women commented that being a female in a male dominated environment meant that they stood out. "I am more likely to be remembered. I am often the only woman in a meeting of 30 men and, while I forget them, they do not forget me," said one respondent. Another observed: "I think it sometimes gets your CV noticed in a sea of male applicants, so for some roles it sets you apart."
Unfortunately, though, the majority of respondents (58 per cent) believed that being a woman makes it harder to have a successful IT career. Many comments concerned maternity, pay, promotion opportunities and the way in which women are treated by men in the workplace.
Being judged more harshly than their male colleagues was a complaint made by many of the women. "I've found in my own experience that technical types (often men) are much more willing to acknowledge expertise than the non-technical gatekeepers (HR and senior management)," said one.
"They judge by how well you fit the stereotype (I'm always going to lose that one) because they don't possess the ability to judge technical skill. With non-technical types, being a woman can sometimes be a huge disadvantage.
"I had considerably more people management experience than male colleagues in one post, but was held to much higher standards. What would be fabulous people skills in a man seemed to be considered as 'only to be expected and nothing special' in a woman."
Over half of the women surveyed also believed that they did not earn as much as their male colleagues. Some had first-hand experience of this. "I was on a much lower wage than male colleagues in my previous company - over 30 per cent less - and also left out of pay gap evaluation," said one respondent.
"I think I'm probably roughly on par for my official role now with my new employer, but I think I'll have to job hop aggressively to keep from becoming a taken-for-granted girl."
Promotion was another area in which many women felt that their gender was a setback. One woman said that a previous boss told her off the record that the firm had not promoted her because she was a woman, and that her manager told her colleague that the reason she was not promoted was because she didn't dress like a senior programmer, specifically because she didn't wear a skirt.
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