Career Watch

Lucy Sanders

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), Boulder, Colo.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that more than 2 million technology-related jobs will be added to the nation's workforce by 2012. But according to recent research conducted by the Information Technology Association of America, the percentage of women in the U.S. IT workforce has fallen by 18.5% over the past eight years. To help address this decline, Cisco Systems Inc. recently began a partnership with the NCWIT to increase awareness of educational and career opportunities for girls and women in science, technology, math and engineering. Thomas Hoffman spoke with Lucy Sanders about the group's work with Cisco and what they hope to achieve.

Lucy Sanders, founder and CEO of The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)
Lucy Sanders, founder and CEO of The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)

How did this partnership between Cisco and the NCWIT come about? Cisco is part of the NCWIT Workforce Alliance. In that role, Cisco is working hard to make sure that more girls and women are interested in careers in IT. In that regard, they wanted to do this awareness campaign, and we thought it was a natural partnership.

Any idea what percentage of the U.S. IT workforce is made up of women right now? It's about 29%, and it's on a downward trend. What's more alarming is the drop in enrollment in computer science programs, down about 18% [for men and women] at U.S. colleges and universities. And only 15% of high school students are taking advanced placement tests in computer science. Some companies say they feel like they're OK today in terms of female participation in IT, but they don't expect to be OK in the future.

What are some steps that Cisco and the NCWIT plan to take to increase awareness of career opportunities for women in IT? This awareness campaign is a really important first step. We're trying to get the word out to parents and educators that this is a wonderfully creative career. There's a perception that it's singular and geeky. But I know firsthand that it's an exciting and creative and socially relevant career. So we're sending out materials to parents and educators. That's an important first step. And there will be more. We really do need to mobilize parents to make them realize the importance of these career opportunities.

What It Takes to Be World-class

How do IT organizations in world-class companies differ from those in typical companies? The Hackett Group defines several key differentiating characteristics in its "Book of Numbers" research report, released this month.

1. World-class CIOs are far more likely to sit on the company's primary management committee.

2. World-class CIOs are much more likely to report to the CEO (71% of CIOs at world-class companies, compared with 20% at typical companies). Among typical companies, the most common reporting relationship is for the CIO to report to the chief financial officer (33%). Only 14% of world-class CIOs report to the CFO.

3. Managers in the IT organizations of world-class companies are more likely to have advanced degrees, as are members of the IT professional staff.

4. Sixty-seven percent of world-class IT organizations are controlled centrally, compared with 54% for typical companies. Moreover, while all world-class IT organizations in the study have eliminated local reporting for IT functions, 9% of typical organizations still use this approach. According to Hackett, centralization lets world-class IT organizations coordinate their efforts more effectively while ensuring that IT goals mesh with those of the business.

Hackett gathers its performance metrics from 2,000 of the world's leading companies, including 96% of the businesses that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The research firm defines a world-class company as one that scores in the top quartile in both efficiency and effectiveness performance metrics verified through benchmarking studies.

A Seat at the Table
Percentage of companies where CIO sits on the primary management committee, 2005:



Typical companies

World-class companies

Source: The Hackett Group, Atlanta

Side Effects

Career prospects for security professionals who report to a chief information security officer take a hit when the CISO starts reporting to someone outside the IT organization. Gartner Inc. estimates that in 30% of its client companies, the CISO reports to a chief risk officer, who in turn reports to the CEO or the board of directors. It makes things easier for the CISO, but Gartner says his direct reports end up with restricted opportunities to move up within the larger IT organization and little in the way of career development. (For more on security careers, see "Security Convergence," Feb. 13.)




Percentage of IT employees reimbursed 100% for their training by their companies who say they’re not looking for new jobs.

Percentage of IT employees whose companies don’t support them at all in their training who say they will look for employment elsewhere.

Source: The Computing Technology Industry Association Inc. survey of 462 IT workers, January 2006

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon