Women in IT need to ‘act like men’ to succeed

Nearly half (48 percent) of women working in IT feel that they need to act like men in order to be successful, a survey has found.

Forty percent of women also believe that young females are put off pursuing a career in the technology industry because of its geeky image, according to the ‘Women’s Careers in IT’ survey conducted by career and recruitment site Women in Technology and industry trade association Intellect.

The findings back up research from sector skills body e-skills, which found that female students are put off by IT careers because they see the sector as male-dominated, geeky and complex.

Today, just 17 percent of IT professionals today are women, and only 15 percent of students on IT-related degrees in the UK are female.

While there has been a move in corporate organisations towards more flexible working, the women surveyed were concerned that taking advantage of these options would harm their careers.

For example, one respondent said: “While flexible hours are a possibility, it is not actively encouraged by management and is seen as quite career-limiting.”

Another respondent added: “The company offers some flexibility but women taking up options of part-time and flex-type working undoubtedly suffer in the promotion stakes. They simply don’t get recognition.”

The survey found that despite more than 60 percent of respondents having more than a decade of experience, only 26 percent had reached senior management.

More than a third of respondents said they left their last position due to a lack of internal promotion, with many respondents believing that they were passed over for promotion in favour of male colleagues.

Maggie Berry, managing director of Women in Technology, was disappointed that the results of the survey had not changed much since the questionnaire was last conducted four years ago.

“Breaking the glass ceiling is not about promoting gender equality for its own sake. There is an absolute business case – women are not a minority in a highly qualified tech talent pool and research from McKinsey & Co in 2007 clearly showed that organisations with strong female representation at top management and board level perform better than those without. It’s disappointing to still be having to have this debate in 2011,” she said.

Earlier this year, another survey by Intellect found that the number of women in technology who believe that their pay package is not comparable to that of their male counterparts had increased over the last two years.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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