Making IT Work

Four women tell how they've survived and flourished in the IT culture.

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The flip side of that acceptance is peer pressure not to take advantage of the workplace flexibility thats available. And that doesnt always come from men, she says. Ive seen women try to out-boy the boys and be much less supportive of the need to balance work and family, she says.

One of the most important steps toward success for a woman in IT, Dickinson says, is to find someone preferably a mentor who knows how to achieve that balance. In her role as manager of Suns international mentoring program for engineers, Dickinson once found herself helping a female engineer who was struggling to express what she most wanted to learn from her mentor. She finally said, Im pregnant, and I dont know how to be a mom and an engineer, too, Dickinson recalls.

Its something many people have to deal with, she says, but you dont have to give up your love of engineering because youre a parent.

Advice: Join a networking group specifically geared for women IT professionals, to meet people in similar circumstances who can support one another.

Katy Dickinson

Donna Lamberth

IS manager,

L.L.Bean Information Services

Donna Lamberth has never felt discriminated against, even at her first job at an insurance firm, where most of her co-workers were men. But shes glad that, when she wanted to start a family, she was able to seek the advice of her boss at the time, a woman CIO who had a long commute, a very demanding job and a couple of young children.

The advice she gave me was that in IT, where the work never stops, she had found ways to capitalize on the 24/7 nature of the work to gain flexibility in life, Lamberth says. She felt comfortable heading out to the soccer field to watch her kids play in the afternoon, because there was always productive work she could be doing at 7:00 in the evening.

The secret to being an IT professional while also raising two children or even working toward an MBA, as Lamberth is currently doing is to understand how to make the best of the situation youre in, she says.

The work is 24/7, but the expectation cant be that youre working 24/7, she says.

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