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Government IT

The Shortage of Women In IT 697

Posted by samzenpus
from the equal-opportunity dept.
CIStud writes "The IT industry is hurting for women. Currently only 11% of IT companies are owned by women. The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program requires 5% of all IT jobs to go to female-owned integration companies, but there must be at least 2 female bidders. There are so few female bidders that women-owned IT firms are ineligible for the contracts. From the article: 'Wendy Frank, founder of Accell Security Inc. in Birdsboro, Pa., wishes she had more competitors. It's not often you hear any integrator say that, but in Frank's case, she has good reason. The current Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program authorizes five percent of Federal prime and subcontracts to be set aside for WOSBs. While that might sound fair on the surface, in order to invoke the money set aside for this program, the contracting officer at an agency has to have a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs will submit offers for the job. “We could not participate in the government’s Women-Owned Small Business program unless there was another female competitor,” says Frank. “Procurement officers required that at least two women-owned small businesses compete for the contracts, even in the IT field, where women-owned businesses are underrepresented.”'"
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The Shortage of Women In IT

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  • Not an IT problem... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bziman (223162) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @10:08PM (#40132051) Homepage Journal
    This is a shortage of female BUSINESS OWNERS not a shortage of female technical staff. There IS a shortage of female technical staff - but it has no affect on government contracts.
  • Re:Oh come on... (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @10:35PM (#40132209)

    Historically, boys, rather than girls, were encouraged to play with computers in the, "let's take it apart and upgrade it," sense.

    must have been nice for you then. All I remember is getting my ass beat when I took something apart and that's a hell of a funny definition of "encouragement". I didn't own a computer until I was old enough to work and buy one at which point, I was free to take it apart as much as I wanted.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:11AM (#40132707) Homepage Journal

    If you look at people from almost any perspective, you get a bell curve.

    If you separate people into male/female, you get 2 bell curves... but are they the same?

    It turns out that the bell curve for women is, comparatively speaking, tall and narrow, while for men it's more squat and spread out.

    This means that there is less variation in women than there is for men. There are more women are average height (for women) than there are men of average height (for men). More women of average intelligence than men, and so on.

    This also means that there is more variation in men than there is in women. More men are at the upper end of the curve than women, **but at the same time** there are more men on the lower tail than there are women. More men have the highest level of income than women, but at the same time more men are homeless than women.

    This is a reflection of basic biology. Because women bear the biological expense of childbirth, they tend to be conservative and take fewer chances. Because men have to compete for women, they tend to take chances in an attempt to succeed.

    This is reflected in the bell curves - women have less variation than men. This is why more boys are born than girls - more boys die because they tend to take chances growing up.

    So if success in business requires risk, it's no surprise that there are more men than women. It doesn't mean that men are in general better businessmen, because at the same time more men are unsuccessful at business too.

    Prejudice against women shouldn't be allowed, of course, but thinking that women are equivalent to men in abilities or temperament and legislating around it is a losing proposition.

    Women are equal to men in the eyes of the law. Women can be firefighters so long as they can beat other candidates (both men and women) in the physical endurance trials.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:14AM (#40132729)

    Completely true. A relative of mine had a company in an obscure (and utterly mundane) line of work relevant to the interests of various government agencies. The nominal owner was a female veteran of mixed black/native american heritage whose sole role was to collect a percentage of the contracts awarded via these set-aside programs. She had nothing to do with the creation or operation of the business, but was recruited for this "role" specifically for her demographic characteristics.

    I did not have the sense that this scenario was in any way uncommon among small-time government contractors.

  • by melted (227442) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:22AM (#40132991) Homepage

    I've done ~60 interviews so far, that is, the kind where _I_ interview people. The number of female candidates? Two. The number of times I gave a "hire" to female candidates — one. The number of offers extended to female candidates I interviewed — zero (other interviewers disagreed with my "hire"). Truth is, finding great engineers is incredibly hard, and women just apply far less often. That having been said, giving them special treatment in the interviews is unfair, to both them and men. Either you can design and code, or you can't. That doesn't in any way depend on the shape of one's genitals.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday May 28, 2012 @07:48AM (#40134363)

    I am guessing the moderators didn't get your reference of the talking Barbie Doll.

    But I think that is root of the problem. While woman are going into college in record numbers, most of them are not going into majors required by high demand fields which require Math and Science. With the exception of Biology, most Science degrees are still men only. It isn't that woman cannot do the work, but because culture has told them that they shouldn't do it.

    Don't blame the men, it isn't just the men, it is peers too, if a woman decides to go into a math intensive science, their peers will try to dissuade them. If they like Mathematics they have to be quite about it.
    Even look at the ITT commercials, most of them are about Men, the few that have women, the woman tend to be rather masculine, with lower voices. Our culture is setup to dissuade woman from math.
    I have actually worked with a lot of Woman IT workers. However most of them are near retirement age. I fond woman IT workers to be able to do their jobs very well, however it is different on how men do the work. For men IT is about building and concurring, for women it is about fixing and solving. I find that woman IT workers are happier in managing existing code, man are happier with building new code.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Monday May 28, 2012 @08:03AM (#40134441)

    There is still a greater social expectation upon men that they must have a career. I would not expect clse to fifty-fifty participation in the absence of hiring bias as there is always a greater proportion of women who choose to focus their lives on other areas than work. The social pressure - of being valued only by what job you have - tends to drive men up the career ladder as they have little other option. (A woman who focuses on her family is "a valid choice"; a man who does so is assumed to have failed in his career.)

    Pinker addresses that. In particular that about 80% of women are primarily motivated by intrinsic factors such as job satisfaction and a sense of community and cooperation at work, whereas this is only about 40% for men. About 60% of men are primarily motivated by extrinsic factors such as money, power and status, whereas that's only about 20% for women. That alone accounts for the disparity in the boardroom -- it's not that women don't have what it takes to run a company, it's just that lots of them would rather be doing something else. Pinker complains that measures such as pay or presence in the boardroom are actually buying into a male model of success, and that women are right to reject them if they want to, but with a 60/40 split amongst men it's not all that much of a male measure either. It's just that those with power and status tend to set the agenda, whatever their gender.

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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