IT Needs Women

Of the 772 survey respondents who told us their gender,only 13 percent were female. But even though they're outnumbered, the women who responded to our survey told us they had nearly as high a level of job satisfaction as their male colleagues. Seventy-nine percent of male respondents said they're somewhat or totally satisfied, and 72.6 percent of women reported similar overall satisfaction with their work.As Jason Bovberg reports in "How Much Cash AreYou Raking In?"page 15,men in IT careers are still paid more than women overall, but women are now seeing close-to-equal pay in midrange IT jobs.

However, of those who expressed disappointment with their jobs, the percentage was higher for female respondents than male. Of female respondents, 15.7 percent said they're somewhat dissatisfied, compared with 8.6 of the male respondents.The comments of some of those female respondents show that women still face genderrelated challenges in their traditionally male-dominated careers. In responding to the survey question, "Would you recommend working in some aspect of IT as a career path to young people looking to choose a profession?" a few individual respondents indicated that they would not especially recommend IT to women. One female DBA and Web developer said she'd recommend an IT career particularly to men because "males tend to have a better chance at a good career path than females."Another DBA said she wouldn't recommend an IT career to women because "as a woman, I have found many obstacles and discriminations. I love what I do; I hate the politics associated with it." And a Help desk engineer emphasized the difficulty of getting started in IT, saying,"Females have a hard time getting into this field. I have had a rough time of it."

However, most respondents to our survey contended that gender isn't a factor.As one DBA observed,"I've seen opportunities for both groups in database-related fields. Gender doesn't seem to have much of an impact if the right person is applying for the job." A female DBA encouraged other women to join her, saying, the work is "challenging—and there's no glass ceiling for females." And several respondents who specifically encouraged women to jump into the IT community believe that being a female will be an advantage in the changing IT landscape. An IT director says he believes that a "deficit of female IT specialists opens up huge possibilities" for women in the database world.This sentiment echoes the theme of the main article: The changing nature of IT employment requires a creative, adaptive nature.Those who enjoy the challenge of solving complex questions will find satisfying careers."IT is going to be a challenging and rewarding career regardless of gender," says one IT director."As an aging population begins to need additional output from its intellectual resources, it will have to utilize the 51 percent of the population that has been predominantly absent from our IT culture. \[Unless we make this step forward\], we will be unable to survive as a country or a culture."

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