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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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  • Oh come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:02PM (#40132023)

    There is no âoeshortageâ of women in IT since in fact there is no quota nor any particular class of IT job that specifically requires women, and so likewise IT is not âoehurtingâ for women.

    Now, perhaps it can be said that few women want to go into IT, or perhaps there actually is a bias against women in IT, but this âoeshortageâ and âoehurtingâ bullshit is hyperbole.

    Unless Iâ(TM)ve just been unaware of the all-nude Swedish lesbian IT shopsâ¦

    • by Kenja (541830) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:17PM (#40132115)
      There should be a quota! I'm tired of having to flirt with all the gay guys in IT. I needs me some women!
      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:52PM (#40132297) Journal

        When quota system is imposed on anything you will see the effect - end product is almost guaranteed to be inferior

        No matter how the quota is applied - by race, gender, nationality, religion or whatever - when quota system is enforced, competition stops

        The IT industry is the very last place where quota system should be enforced - too much is riding on the robustness and stability of IT products

        • by InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:29AM (#40132497) Journal
          I like them (women) in my private life, but for work, I like to be working with people that are capable, gender is superficial and irrelevant.
          • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:10AM (#40134469)
            Gender, ethnicity, religion, educational background, sexuality, OS choice... All moot unless quota-mandated by the government.

            True diversity in the workplace does not come from employing (e.g.) 1 in every 10 female or non-caucasian by law. It achieves nothing, while harming business, patronising those you shoehorn into jobs, and is prejudiced against those who, through no fault of their own, are the statistically common gender/race/body type to apply for that position.

            It is all bullshit. Best person to apply for the job is all that matters.
            • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:13PM (#40138541)

              You get diversity by getting rid of sexist and racist employees too. Too many IT shops have a tendency towards scaring off the women with bad attitude and then pretending that nothing is wrong by saying "they need a thicker skin". The best person for the job often doesn't want a job working with troglodytes. And IT definitely seems to have more all-male departments than many other software or engineering jobs I've seen.

        • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:15AM (#40132953) Journal

          When quota system is imposed on anything you will see the effect - end product is almost guaranteed to be inferior

          What you say is true, unless there is actually a significant bias present. If it undoes the bias, then ti won't necessarily make standards go down, it could even make them go up.

          [citation needed] below, but I've lost the reference.

          I did read a study about geneder discrimination in academia, normalizing out for all different subject areas. Bottom line, everywhere except the USA (which has significant positive discrimination), women need significantly better track records to get the same job. In the USA with all its quotas etc, it's about the same.

          It would be tough to argue that standards have gone down as a result, as hiring is now done from an effectively larger pool of applicants with the same qualifications and skills.

        • by kdemetter (965669) on Monday May 28, 2012 @07:23AM (#40133973)

          Not to mention how degrading it must be for the women he actually want an IT job : to be hired not for your competence, but because you are a women.
          Quota's are sexist.

          Also, I have never seen quota's the other way around ( there are jobs which typically are occupied by a lot of women and only men ) .

          Just hire the most competent person for the job, regardless of gender or sexual preference.

          On the other hand, women and men often have different viewpoints, so it can be an advantage to have both men and women in a team.

      • by EEPROMS (889169) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:38AM (#40132823)
        I can see a monty pythonish like skit on this in the making

        IT Manager "yes sir as you can see 80% of our staff are female"
        Govt official "are you sure, to be honest they just look like a bunch of men in skirts"
        IT Manager "no I can asure you our IT staff are 80% female, just ask eeer John eerr itta any question you like"
    • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TWX (665546) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:27PM (#40132169)
      Historically, boys, rather than girls, were encouraged to play with computers in the, "let's take it apart and upgrade it," sense. This encourages boys through their adolescent years to play with computers themselves as opposed to just using them. These boys grow into young men with knowledge and experience that fills though few slots above the average user, ie, the exact knowledge needed for entry-level service, like fixing PCs, setting up equipment, and other things that small service companies do for revenue.

      On top of that, if those companies do field work, destinations are as varied as a nice, genteel home in a good part of town, to a dirty, grimy warehouse in a bad part of town, to a construction yard, and everywhere in between. These are those places that girls and young women are generally discouraged from visiting without an escort, which is something they're not going to have when working for a small IT shop.

      Entry-level IT employees may become mid-level IT employees, and some, even without college, might become high-level IT employees or even IT managers. Thing is, probably only one in ten will be good enough to be mid-level, and probably one in a hundred will be good enough to be at the top or to be a manager or owner. While it's not essential for an owner to know the ins and outs of the IT business, I can tell you from at three experiences in my career when the boss is only a businessman and doesn't know anything about performing the duties the business provides, the business generally folds or is weak with an empty suit occupying an office.

      When probably less than 20% of incoming entry-level IT workers are women, and distill that to the one in ten or one in a hundred to mid and high level jobs, and you can quickly see why there are few women owners, managers, or non-college tech workers in general. While women with college degrees are certainly better represented in IT-related jobs that benefit from college, a lot of IT still lets experience replace college, which means that men still dominate if they come up through the work-experience route.

      Had women been more represented in IT work through my roughly sixteen year career my life probably would have turned out differently. The few women in IT were either so hounded or so damaged that real relationships with women who actually understood my work were essentially impossible. So many of the very few women that were in the business were sexually-harassed to the point that they didn't bother to remain in IT either, instead looking for other kinds of work. To me, the lack of women is very much not a surprise.
      • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by carolfromoz (1552209) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:45PM (#40132255)

        Historically, boys, rather than girls, were encouraged to play with computers in the, "let's take it apart and upgrade it," sense. This encourages boys through their adolescent years to play with computers themselves as opposed to just using them. These boys grow into young men with knowledge and experience that fills though few slots above the average user, ie, the exact knowledge needed for entry-level service, like fixing PCs, setting up equipment, and other things that small service companies do for revenue.

        I don't know if it's as simple as childhood encouragement. As a 42 year old female who's been working in IT for more than 20 years you can imagine I encourage both my son and daughter to be interested in maths, science and computers. Boy loves it all and is very interested; girl does not want to know. Why is this? Maybe just natural tendencies - I don't know. Wish I did.

        • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TWX (665546) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:07AM (#40132403)
          Age and physical sexual maturity probably factors in, and perceptions about the maturity of those who do play with this stuff probably also factors in. If she sees boys who play with this stuff as undesirable, either intellectually finding them immature, or sexually finding them unappealing, then she might not want much to do with the hobby because of her perceptions about them, even more than her perceptions of the hobby.

          Most boys who play with computers do not become appealing to females until college age if they go to college, and sometimes later if they're not in the college setting with equally intelligent females. At that point, they're not perceived as successful. Success isn't yet measured in income or in income potential- it's measured in social performance- sports, fine arts, even academic performance sometimes. The further from the artificial environment that school fosters, the less those constructs fostered by that environment matter. Unfortunately, by then many females are well out of where this hobby-turned-career track could take them.
        • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:12AM (#40132425)
          I see this with all of my peers. They are either oblivious as to why girls pick certain things and boys others, or they believe they know why and use their children for their confirmation bias. All the while, I see every single one of them pushing their children into the predefined sexual roles that society has dictated. Even when they don't think they are doing it themselves, all of the people around them are doing it. Their relatives. The schools. The TVs. It is unavoidable.

          Part of that gender message that gets ground into children day in and day out is that males MUST get a good job if they want a good life. females CAN get a good job if they want a good life. As soon as little girls begin to interact with the rest of society, it is made absolutely clear to them that they do not need to provide for themselves. There is always someone else who will do it for them.

          Irrelevant of gender, you will get a lower percentage of people that have been told they don't have to work, working hard and taking less than desirable jobs. The fact that women as a group tend to gravitate towards jobs that pay less and require less sacrifice is not surprising. They are not underrepresented in these jobs because of their gender. It is because their gender is under represented in the group that is raised to believe that no one is going to pay their way through life.

          It isn't a genetic problem, and the solution for under representation of women in IT isn't to do more of what caused the under representation in the first place.

          If you want to see this whole thing really laid bare, look at plumbing. In IT it could be argued that everybody is equal, and thus it must be discrimination. When you look at plumbing, there are jobs were particular genders have a distinct advantage. While there are some jobs that require physical strength so a men as a group have a genetic advantage, in residential plumbing, it is incredibly common for the plumber to need to squeeze through small places. Many houses do not have enough clearance under them for an average sized man to fit. This is a field where equally competent little petite women should really shine. Every plumbing company in the country should have tiny little size 0 women working for them. Do we see this? No. Because tiny little size 0 women don't need to crawl around under dank insect infested crawlspaces. They don't need to literally crawl through human feces. So, they don't.

          Again. This isn't a genetic problem, and it isn't an industry problem. It is a cultural problem that starts before the kids can even walk. (Of course, that is only if one considers it a problem at all)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by snowgirl (978879)

            Awesome post, and says everything I could say, and perhaps better than I would.

            I've had to work on my own motorcycle from time to time, and my boyfriend kind of refused to help me, knowing that self-sufficiency is better than doing everything for me. However, from time to time, he would call me over with "hey, Japanese hands", because I had the tiny hands to get at/into something that his man hands were just too big to get at.

          • Re:Oh come on... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by alphatel (1450715) * on Monday May 28, 2012 @06:33AM (#40133831)

            If you want to see this whole thing really laid bare, look at plumbing. In IT it could be argued that everybody is equal, and thus it must be discrimination. When you look at plumbing, there are jobs were particular genders have a distinct advantage. While there are some jobs that require physical strength so a men as a group have a genetic advantage, in residential plumbing, it is incredibly common for the plumber to need to squeeze through small places. Many houses do not have enough clearance under them for an average sized man to fit. This is a field where equally competent little petite women should really shine. Every plumbing company in the country should have tiny little size 0 women working for them. Do we see this? No. Because tiny little size 0 women don't need to crawl around under dank insect infested crawlspaces. They don't need to literally crawl through human feces. So, they don't.

            Are you on crack? My whole family is plumbers and the two factors that make it distinctly male have nothing to do with crawl spaces which are incredibly rare, and in any case, would be perfectly suitable for midgets, yet I've never met a dwarf plumber.
            Plumbing is 1) dirty, and sadly women have an aversion to the stuff, breaking fingernails, etc. It's ugly, smelly and pardon the pun, shitty work. 2) You are definitely advantaged by having extra weight and/or strength. Much of the work requires carrying cargo, lifting, and turning old threads that refuse to move, or new ones that refuse to joint. Pulling boilers that weigh several tons out of a basement with nothing but a handcart?

            Ultimately it is #1 that causes most women to simply walk away from any plumbing opportunity. The only ladies I have seen successfully apply to and retain plumbing jobs were in the military - where they learned on the job to deal with the difficulty of being a lady and getting dirty. So your analogy sucks. As for women in IT, more power to them. Although I walked through a Google space yesterday and I have to tell you, there wasn't a woman programmer in sight. Talk about sweatshops.

          • Re:Oh come on... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by realityimpaired (1668397) on Monday May 28, 2012 @07:56AM (#40134091)

            Irrelevant of gender, you will get a lower percentage of people that have been told they don't have to work, working hard and taking less than desirable jobs. The fact that women as a group tend to gravitate towards jobs that pay less and require less sacrifice is not surprising. They are not underrepresented in these jobs because of their gender. It is because their gender is under represented in the group that is raised to believe that no one is going to pay their way through life.

            You're wrong on that point. I'm a woman who was raised to believe in a strong work ethic, always go to work, and sometimes you need to take a job you don't want in order to make ends meet. And I have had some shitty jobs in the past that I did not enjoy at all, but I took them because I needed to put food on the table and pay rent. I have never, in my life, claimed employment insurance or any of the other entitlements that we have in this country, despite being eligible for it, because I believe in fending for myself.

            However, there comes a point where you reach certain minimums that let you make ends meet. Once you are able to live comfortably, you don't need more money, more wealth that you can't use. It becomes a quality of life tradeoff... do you want that extra $20,000/year if it means that you will be working 80 hour weeks with weird on-call hours, or are you willing to take a slightly smaller paycheque if it means that you can work a 40-hour week Monday-Friday, and have your weekends and holidays off? I took the latter, and it's not because I was raised to think I didn't have to work for myself, it's because I was raised to believe that quality of life is more important than bank balance. I live comfortably and have growing savings that will have me retiring by about 55 or 60, but I do it by not wasting money on things when I can have as much fun for free. I'm probably healthier for it, too, because instead of going to the movies, I'd rather go roller-blading by the canal for a couple of hours, things like that. But in balance, I think I will have a much better life out of it, because I have the time to enjoy myself, and I have a job I can leave at the office.

            There is a cultural problem, but I believe the cultural problem is the emphasis that gets placed on materialism. There's a *lot* of pressure to succeed in life, and success is measured by the size of your bank balance, and by the type of car in your driveway. You must be able to out-bling your neighbours, you see.

          • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by zenyu (248067) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:23AM (#40134527)

            As the father I see how hard the community pushes boys and girls into their gender roles. My daughter doesn't love pink because of the color, she loves it because no one calls her a boy when she wears it. She plays with cars at home, but she won't touch one when another kid is around. When she wears any dress she gets constant compliments, not so when she wears a very cute outfit consisting of a shirt and pants. And whenever we talk with other parents the talk of the "inate" characteristics of girls and boys is usually constant, even when the characteristics are obviously universal.

            It doesn't just stop at childhood either, as an involved father that stayed at home for a 18 months after my kids were born I met the most sexist women I've ever encountered on the playground. Now there were many women who weren't and I wasn't the only dad around, but even a woman I knew before, who had a kid around the same time, couldn't stop herself from saying men can't do X and women always do Y when I was doing those things everyday by choice before and after my wife went back to work. Mom's groups were also extreemely unwelcoming. I understand that they might not want to talk about their breastfeeding problems with a man around but there are a plethora of things to talk about when cooped up all day with a small child. For any mothers-to-be out there, taking a vote on whether do admit me and my kids to a playdate makes you appear about as democratic as an apartheid jury deciding if I looked white enough to join you at the pool; I won't really care which way the vote goes, I don't want my children around bigots.

            FYI I also see sexism alive and well when hiring in IT. At work we'd been interviewing for a programming position for months and finally found a decent candidate. I wanted to hire her and kept getting resistance and unqualified alternate prospects pushed at me. When I finally found out what the reservations were, it came down to "she'll be the only woman on the team and will be lonely" and "this job involves working late and it's dangerous for a woman to go home alone at night." I reminded them that as a woman in IT she is surely used to a male dominated workplace and the position rarely involves working very late, we could call a car service when it does as is company policy for all day-shift employees anyway. Luckilly she was hired, but we could have easily lost her to another company with the delay these unstated concerns caused.

            • Re:Oh come on... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Belial6 (794905) on Monday May 28, 2012 @04:49PM (#40137241)
              I saw the same thing with the Mom's groups when my son was born. A single dad tried to join one of the groups my wife belonged to. About half the women started throwing a fit. They deleted their posts off the groups discussion board. Stopped going to play dates. They even went so far as to start making really nasty slanderous comments about the poor guy. Making comments to the effect of "Any man that would want to join this group must be a pervert doing it for sexual reasons." It was truly disgusting.
        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:19AM (#40132457)

          People (Americans in particular) want to discount genetics, pretend that we can all be anything we want to be, that we have no inbuilt limitations.

          Of course we know that is false. Most simply it can be seen (and strangely the one area it is accepted) is athletics. Some people have the genes that allows them to become top athletes, the rest don't and that is that. We also see in athletics the difference between men and women, that the genders are not equal at the top, they have areas they are better in.

          Well, this carries over to mental, emotional, and other differences as well. Your genetics don't dictate who you are, but they do define some limits on you and also what you might be interested in.

          So you are going to see differences in the interest of the genders, even without any societal forces. One interesting example I see is veterinary medicine. Since it has become a field that was acceptable for women to work in (used to be teaching and nursing was all that was considered "ok" for women to be in) it has become very popular for women. The vet office I use is ALL female. All the vets, all the vet techs, all the receptionists, all women. From what I've learned, the heavy amount of women is not an anomaly, it is a field that women have a lot of interest in.

          Now why is that? I'm not sure, I've never seen any research on it. Perhaps it is the nurturing aspect that appeals to many women. Whatever the case it certainly isn't something where there's a big push in society to "get women in to veterinary medicine" yet it is happening. It appeals to women, so they go in to it.

          None of this is to say that culture and childhood encouragement don't play a part, of course. If a girl is interested in computers but continually told that "girls don't play with computers" that can well change the course of her life. However we have to be open to the idea that just as different individuals have different predispositions, so do the sexes.

          We may always see a situation where there are less women interested in IT than men. Frankly I don't think that should be a concern, so long as we make sure it isn't because women are being unfairly forced away from it. I would think it far worse to try and start pressuring women in to careers they don't like all with some misguided idea of "balance".

          I guess I feel pretty strongly about this because computers were something I always wanted to do, since as long as I can remember. This wasn't because of my family, mom, dad, grandparents, none of them are technically savvy. However I loved computers and electronics and was fascinated by it from age 3. Clearly it is just one of those things about me, a genetic predisposition. I'm glad I got to follow that, and I wasn't told to do something different because people decided that I should have interests other than that.

          • by TWX (665546) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:33AM (#40132517)
            Veterinary medicine for pets is a fairly new phenomenon, and if the books of James Herriot are to be believed, evolved from livestock veterinary practices. Livestock practices were extremely difficult, dirty, and outright disgusting at times, with veterinarians literally stripping nude to the waist to avoid destroying clothes or leaving clothes bits inside animals when they had to reach into digestive systems or reproductive systems to perform. Obviously for a long time, even men weren't generally socially acceptable while shirtless, and women have been even less-so, continuing to this day. This, plus the physical nature of working with very large, very strong animals that might violently resist the veterinarian would certainly cause problems for women in the industry.

            Small animal care, on the other hand, does not favor strength or the ability to get one's upper body into a large animal's cavities. If anything, like your plumbing example, there are situations where surgeries and other medical operations would be better carried out by small hands and small fingers due to working on small creatures.

            Back to IT, and your comments on women potentially being unfairly forced away from it, I feel that sexual harassment is a major, major problem with discouraging girls and women from being interested. Unfortunately when boys don't get a lot of interaction with girls, it's difficult to regulate their behavior so that they don't harass. In non-workplace environments it's extremely difficult to control sexual harassment. Schools, clubs, Internet discussions, etc, all very, very hard to prevent sexual harassment if those present choose to do it. Can't fire them, can't really discipline them, etc. So, they drive girls and women away.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:56AM (#40133087)

              I feel that sexual harassment is a major, major problem with discouraging girls and women from being interested. Unfortunately when boys don't get a lot of interaction with girls, it's difficult to regulate their behavior so that they don't harass.

              The problem is that our society has decided that it's OK for a female to engage in a Mating Display and expect the males to not respond. So the women are driven away by the unwelcome responses. The other problem is that in many cases the males involved are not the Alpha's who draw the female's primary interest- those guys are out playing football or working in management. So regardless of harassment, the females are drawn out of the profession because there aren't any suitable candidates for mating.

              We vastly underestimate the role of sex and Mating in our society. We pretend it doesn't matter... it does. We pretend that a couple who are dating or married have "eyes only for each other" but that is also bullshit; despite traditions and cultural taboos, both genders are constantly on the lookout for a different partner. The females are always looking to trade up for a better Male, and the Males are always looking for more females to mate with. It's the elephant in the room that nobody wants to address- the idea that we should all become asexual drones seems to be the current thinking on how men and women should act in society.
              There seems to be a lot of people promoting the idea that the male should have to "control himself" in responding to sexual triggers, but that women should NOT have to control themselves in sending them. Until we get such double standards addressed in our culture, we'll continue to see gender gaps in a lot of professions, not just IT.

            • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday May 28, 2012 @05:19AM (#40133531)
              Sexual harassment can't factor in. Why? Because career choices are made before "sexual harassment" exits. Harassing girls because they are girls isn't "Sexual harassment" (in the original definition, as the new one includes bad body odor, regardless of gender, as sexual harassment, making the phrase useless, which is why I refuse to acknowledge it.)
            • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Monday May 28, 2012 @08:07AM (#40134133)
              That's because you define harassment as something men do to women. Women are equally likely of harassing men, just in a more passive-aggressive female way. The difference is that their behavior is entirely accepted. Women are also overly invested in their feelings and entitlements and when they don't interact enough with men in the real world they become wilting flowers and PC harpies. In a male-dominated office they can never feel comfortable unless the whole thing is rearranged around them personally; on the other hand there is no way for a male to fit into a female-dominated office.
              • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:36PM (#40135671)

                on the other hand there is no way for a male to fit into a female-dominated office.

                I don't know if that's completely true. There are 4 guys that work in my wife's office with her and about 30 other women, but you're pretty well on the mark about it being acceptable for women to harass men and not the other way around. I've been in my wife's office once when we took our new daughter in to visit my wife's coworkers and was there when one of the guys was called "sugar cake" and one of the older women slapped him on the ass. He didn't seem to mind and just harty-har-hared it up with the girls. It was obvious I was more offended than he was. If that kind of behavior was taking place in my office, regardless of weather it was a man or women, it would have reported and at the vary least the verbal offender would be retaking our mandatory sensitivity training and the physical offender would have been suspended without pay.

                I was also treated very rudely and, to my wife's embarrassment, said I was strictly there as the muscle to carry the car seat and would rather be ignored. I meant to say it jokingly, but is seemed to quickly snap the women making cat calls and remarks you'd expect a trucker to make to a pretty waitress at a truck stop back in line. Later my wife and I were told I wouldn't be allowed to visit again because "I didn't know my place" and "had over inserted my penis upsetting some of the other women". Yes my wife's manager said "penis", she was obviously upset and red in the face. If it was because of the way her employees were behaving or that I wasn't willing to let them poke fun at me, I don't know. Unfortunately my wife is the one taking the punishment, while her friends are still talking to her most of the other women are shunning her now because she "can't keep her hubby in line", which is killing her and that is the only reason I wish I had kept my mouth shut. Currently she's looking for another job while out on maternity leave, if that fails we plan to try and get her pregnant again before she goes back so she work the minimum amount of time and have another year of leave to find another job.

        • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cffrost (885375) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:25AM (#40132779) Homepage

          I don't know if it's as simple as childhood encouragement. As a 42 year old female who's been working in IT for more than 20 years you can imagine I encourage both my son and daughter to be interested in maths, science and computers. Boy loves it all and is very interested; girl does not want to know. Why is this? Maybe just natural tendencies - I don't know. Wish I did.

          It is definitely (in part due to) natural tendencies. The same response is observed in at least one other primate species. I can't remember the specific species with which I saw this demonstrated, but when these young primates were presented with a selection of toys to play with, the females preferred dolls, while the males preferred to play with toy vehicles.

          I'm pretty sure I saw this in an episode of BBC Horizon, but I don't have a reference to the particular episode. However, here are links to two articles that discuss primate toy preference:

          Dorothy Lepkowska on Gender and Toys [guardian.co.uk]
          Chimp "Girls" Play With "Dolls" Too—First Wild Evidence [nationalgeographic.com]

          • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by janimal (172428) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:32AM (#40133207)

            The primates argument is a strong one against social conditioning. My wife and I both believe that women are genetically less apt to like certain types of work than men. Her IQ approaches a mensa measured 200 and she used to be far better at maths than I ever was, but she couldn't care less for maths or computers. She places the reason for it in that she's more interested in things she can directly apply to her life and to people she interacts with. Evidence of the superficiality of her not liking computers is that as soon as computers became a social tool, she began taking an interest in them more. She has always pushed for a better smartphone, and now she's doing a .com startup. She just isn't doing it for technical reasons, but for the interaction that she can get.

            I'm the opposite: I enjoy making airplane models, or thinking up abstract things I think it helps me to understand the world, but she's right to say that I don't work at the level, where the result of my work has a direct and immediate effect on life. This post, for example is a veritable waste of my practical time.

            Our conclusion is that women tend to fields that somehow include a large amount of social interaction and pragmatism, while men are perfectly fine doing things in which they can be alone and where the practicality is more removed (although not necessarily absent). More than that: women can relax in highly social work, while men are more able to relax in loner work. The ability to relax and enjoy doing something is the biggest indicator of how we are wired, as opposed to conditioned, to behave.

            IT is a lot about working alone. Even though you work in teams in IT, the large majority of guys who go into IT do not like to interact with others (the typical developer drives me nuts, when I try to get him to understand how what he's doing is practical). When I build IT teams, I find that I need both social types and loner types, with an emphasis on universality of each. The team ends up consisting of someone who speaks business and is responsible for communication and a team of folks who prefer to work semi-alone and develop based on the documented requirements. It just so happens, that it's easier to find girls to fit the business analyst role than the lone developer role. The girl analysts do like IT projects, but they like them for different reasons than the guys. The girl's ability to think logically, work hard for their money and like the IT systems we produce tends to be similar to guys, but with different emphasis.

            I think the resulting small amount of women in IT is simply because IT requires less social interaction than project management or sales. I find that women are no less driven, intelligent, and capable than men. They just gravitate to more social types of work, which IT often isn't.

        • Re:Oh come on... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by snowgirl (978879) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:45AM (#40132839) Journal

          Boy loves it all and is very interested; girl does not want to know. Why is this? Maybe just natural tendencies - I don't know. Wish I did.

          It's less so natural tendencies, and rather a "conspiracy" of culture. Children are subjected to more gender-stereotype influence than just what they get from their parents. Nearly everything about the western culture kind of discourages women and girls from being techies, and geeks. (Any girl interested in such things would likely readily be labeled a "tomboy", I know I was...) No matter how hard a parent fights against that trend, children naturally want to conform to the rest of their gender peers... so while the actual positions themselves are less so natural, the "conspiracy" that girls want to conform to other girls, and boys want to conform to other boys, results in them all picking up certain common interests which make it difficult to distinguish from "nature".

          • by erroneus (253617)

            I don't think that is the case at all.

            People most often end up being who they are. People don't "learn" to be social. They either are or are not. There is biological cause for a lot of behavior and tendency. Why do we have to pretend that women and men are equal? We see a problem with the notion that "We need more female players in the NFL!" yet because IT work is less physically demanding, women should gravitate to it.

            I think before people get back on the "women in IT" thing again, it would be better

      • Some of the above is bullshit.

        Historically, as in over the past 100 years, there were periods when women were more encouraged to go into computer and periods where men were.

        You have the obvious documented big names in early computing. I couldn't find any historical statistics before the late 60s though.

        In the late 60s to 70s you get a rather wide range of (guesses?) that from 20% to 50% of IT workers were women.
        There were popular magazine articles that featured the female programmer (though they seem prett

        • by TWX (665546)
          There's a lot more to IT work than programming though, and I would argue that most programming isn't IT work. When I think of IT work, I think of an IT department in a company and all of the employees of that department, or IT consulting companies. Yes, company IT departments often have programmers, and if the purpose of the company itself isn't IT-oriented, then it's quite possible that many of the company's programmers are in the IT department.

          At my work, I'd say of about 10,000 employees with the va
    • Re:Oh come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by humanrev (2606607) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:10AM (#40132419)

      Off topic, but I think the above post is an excellent example of how the lack of Unicode support in Slashdot is still retarded.

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:00AM (#40133115) Homepage

      Yeah, but without more women in IT, miss Wendy Frank has to compete with other companies based on quality and price.
      That is somehow totally unfair to women!

  • Damn it.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:05PM (#40132035)

    They shouldn't have made the glass ceiling out of that stuff they use for ipad screens..

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:08PM (#40132047) Journal

    "The IT industry is hurting for women.

    The IT industry is no more "hurting" for women than the coal mining industry or the forestry industry or the alaskan crab fishing industry. There are more men than women in the IT business. There are more women than men other lines of work. So what?

    -jcr

    • The requirement for 50/50 representation on the bids is the problem. The contract bid should be and even mix of the market. The current bid process gives a few companies all the entries while excluding the majority of potential clients.

      This is NOT free enterprise where the best offering gets the job. What happened to hire the best? Lost to PC.

    • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShaggyZet (74769) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:45AM (#40132587) Homepage

      The problem with this statement is that historically and on average, female dominated industries (like nursing and teaching) don't pay as well as male dominated industries (like engineering). And when they start to, like nursing did a few years ago when there was a shortage, more and more men go into them.

      There's nothing inherently wrong with this, it's the free market at work, but government contracting isn't the free market, for various reasons good and bad.

    • by dbIII (701233) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:26AM (#40132781)
      I've seen more women in power stations, chemical plants, foundaries and mines than I've seen in IT.
      That is extremely odd because of examples like this: in 1987 less than 1% of the students enroled in my year of Engineering were women, yet about 52% of those enroled in computer science were women. When I ended up in workplaces with a lot of IT staff there was a lower percentage of women in that role than amoung mining engineers in underground mines located in remote areas! Of course this is not a US example (I'm Australian), but the odd situation of having close to zero of a gender in a role which is really a safe office job is very odd. There are definitely things occuring which are keeping all of those women that are interested out of IT jobs. Whatever happened to those women that studied CS? Most of the women I've met who are working in IT were initially some of those rare engineering students.
  • Not an IT problem... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bziman (223162) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:08PM (#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.
    • There is a "shortage" of:
      women
      small business
      owners
      qualified for the government contracts
      who are bidding on them.

      So what is stopping one of the existing women (small business blah blah blah) from getting one of the other women she knows from forming a small business (or branching off of her existing business) to get a slice of the GUARANTEED government contracts?

      Alice owns Alice, LLC.
      Alice employs Betty, Carl, Doug and Ed.
      So Alice helps Betty form Betty, LLC and take Ed to bid against Alice. Ka-CHING! Lucrat

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:10PM (#40132055)

    I take offense at the notion there is a "shortage" of anyone by race, gender, or sexual orientation in IT- or anywhere else.

    If you want to stop division and hatred the first step is to stop pretended some people need assistance and others do not. Let people be hired based on their own abilities and they will rise to the challenge - as individuals, not part of some arbitrarily defined group of "victims".

    The great thing about IT especially is that it is VERY open to anyone working, probably a lot mores than many other more established professions. If women want to work there, they can and will. There's nothing more we can do as a society to try and convince women to work in IT - so let go the notion that we need some percentage of women and just keep accepting whoever wants to work.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:22PM (#40132145) Journal

      Affirmative action == discrimination.

      The only business that government has here is to ensure that no-one is unfairly discriminated (i.e. people are turned down because of their race/sex/...). The moment government starts discriminating itself, by instituting quotas and other privileges, any pretense of equality goes out of the window, and divisions between all those artificially created groups only deepen.

      • The only business that government has here is to ensure that no-one is unfairly discriminated (i.e. people are turned down because of their race/sex/...).

        And what if government is unable to ensure that? That the cost of documenting and enforcing penalties against unfair discrimination is too high to be practical. What then? Give up? Or go for an imperfect but affordable solution?

      • Affirmative action == discrimination. The only business that government has here is to ensure that no-one is unfairly discriminated

        Affirmative action was created to redress past discrimination. It was based on the theory that if some class of people had been kept out of some profession because of prejudice/racism, you needed to take active steps to increase their numbers until the proportions were reflective of the population.

        That wasn't an entirely unreasonable proposition. The reason it doesn't are more

        • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:59AM (#40132659)

          Affirmative action was created to redress past discrimination.

          Yes it was. And now we know it doesn't work. Yet we continue to pile discrimination on top of discrimination, in the mad hope that moreArtificially discrimination will lead to less.

          That must stop, for discrimination itself will naturally go away with familiarity. inducing discrimination ensures it remains.

  • by intertrode (1564753) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:12PM (#40132073)
    Only the government will set artificial quotas restricting its ability to do business and then complain that reality doesn't match the world they are trying to force on the rest of us. Why do people think men shouldn't be able to find jobs that pay enough to support their families? IT is one of the last places we can do that!
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:15PM (#40132093) Homepage

    The whole system of "veteran-owned" and "women-owned" businesses getting special privileges is a farce. I know of some companies that appoint veterans to certain positions just so they can be veteran owned. Or the veteran may have nothing to do with the company any longer. I know a company that is "woman-owned" because the owner put his wife on the board so he could get special privileges when bidding on government contracts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

  • eh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lips (26363) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:15PM (#40132103) Homepage Journal

    "The Shortage of Women In IT"

    How tall do they need to be?

  • by kenh (9056) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:16PM (#40132109) Homepage Journal

    "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."

    Are remale-owned IT firms PREVENTED from bidding on work the same as a male-owned company?

    The quote above would want me to believe that female-owned are olny eligible for 5% of federal gov't contracts, and unless two female-owned companies offer competing bids for that same 5% of work, neither can win any of that 5% of the contract.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:17PM (#40132117)
    Talk about crybabies. Sheesh.

    She complains about a phenomenon that is caused by women (since studies for over 20 years have repeatedly and consistently shown that women simply tend not to choose to go into STEM careers in the first place), then uses that as a springboard to further complain that she doesn't get enough Federal assistance for women!

    I mean, come on! It's one thing to discuss the issue of "not enough women in IT" (which has been discussed to death already), and quite another to so blatantly whine about it.
  • by rabbit994 (686936) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:36PM (#40132213)

    Actually, reason there are not more woman owned businesses is because women don't want to be in IT because it's truth is, IT is horrible for family people and women tend to be more family oriented then men.

    I would imagine this issue is same for IT Business owners. The late night upgrade failures, the weekend crashes, all that contributes to horrible family life. Until that is solved which I'm not sure is possible, then IT will mostly be men or females with no family.

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:47PM (#40132271)

    Women shoudln't be discriminated against nor should they be 'encouraged' at the expense of qualified men solely due to gender. The people who (probably) helped create WOSB in the first place are the discriminators when they say stupid shit like "women bring a special something to $ACTIVITY_X if only men would let them", like the raging hypocrites that they are. Gee, where are these people when the job up for grabs is coal mining or something similarly less 'glamorous'?

    In the case of IT, it's just one of those examples where most men are more interested in technical matters than most women are. This is ok.

  • The bill this article is flogging extends set-asides for economically disadvantaged women to all women. It removed caps on the size of contracts which can be subject to those set asides. And it gives authority is to award a sole source contract to a woman owned business if 2 or more woman owned businesses aren't expected to bid.

  • Slashdot... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tpstigers (1075021) on Sunday May 27, 2012 @11:57PM (#40132327)

    The Middle-Class White Guy Game preserve.

    Give it a rest, guys. You all keep insisting that intelligence, skills and merit suffice to get ahead in this world. What you don't understand is that this is only true for middle- to upper-class white guys. The rest of the world has to deal with a society full of doors that are closed, NOT open.

    Affirmative Action exists for a reason. If you think we don't need it, kindly explain to me why women working the same jobs as men make less money.

    I know - you can't.

    • Re:Slashdot... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:22AM (#40132473)

      There are a lot of problems with the "Women make less than men for the same work", but I'm going to point out the easiest and most obvious here.

      Basic logic dictates that if women made $0.77 per hour, while men received $1.00 per hour, then businesses would hire ONLY women to save on salaries. In this age of businesses trying to shave PENNIES off their bottom lines, do you really think they'd continue to pay an extra $0.23 per hour just to maintain the "Old Boys" club. If such a "club" actually exists anymore, do you think that a man that has to worry about his pay against what a woman earns is going to be a part of it? Explain to me how men get any jobs, anywhere, given what you're shoveling right now, then I might give your point some attention.

    • Re:Slashdot... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rabbit994 (686936) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:50AM (#40132603)

      I can. On average, women work less then men and take time off for a family. So in most cases, they are paid less then men because they don't work as much as men. There are many studies that show that women who work the same as men, same hours and experience because they haven't taken any time off work for family, they make same as men.

  • by downhole (831621) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:06AM (#40132397) Homepage Journal

    So much whining about the lack of women in technical fields... Anybody worked in or seen the HR department of a medium to large company? How about nursing? Psychology? Child care? When are people going to start complaining about how there is a shortage of men in all of the historically woman-dominated fields, and enacting ham-fisted government laws to try to fix it?

  • by Vermifax (3687) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:10AM (#40132415)

    So basically she is upset that she has to compete with all the men owned companies instead of using federal money to underbid them because there isn't another female owned business that she could compete with to underbid the male owned companies.

    BOO FREAKING HOO.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday May 28, 2012 @12:35AM (#40132529)

    They know that there's more to life than being forced to stay home on the weekends because you're assigned the duty pager. Also that they enjoy not having to do things like "maintenance windows" at 2am.

    There are plenty of female developers/QA engineers out there. Who cares if there isn't enough (how much is enough?) women in IT applying patches, deploying networks, managing storage.

    btw: There's also a shortage of women zamboni drivers, male daycare workers and nursery school teachers.

    nobody's writing an article about them...

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:11AM (#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 Grayhand (2610049) on Monday May 28, 2012 @01:48AM (#40132845)
    In truth how many women do you know interested in IT? I've known quite a few so they are out there but the ugly truth is the percentage of men to women that show an interest in IT is 10 men for every woman. Just a wild guess but not far off. It's not women being shut out half as much as not that many women pursuing it. It's not like there are large numbers out there unemployed that can't find work. Maybe it's not being encouraged at a young age or women are less inclined but there are simply fewer women interested in pursuing IT careers. I come out of special effects and the same percentages applied. Few shops hesitated to hire women and most would seek them out. Women with any talent found it far easier to find work than men. How many young women did you know that built models or played with stop motion animation? I know lots of men but very few women. Unless young women become more interested in IT don't expect the numbers to change.
  • by melted (227442) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:22AM (#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.

Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.

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