Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 28th May 2012 19:25 UTC
In the News This topic comes up quite a lot on technology websites, but I generally try to steer clear from it as much as possible, since I'm not the one to talk about it (you know, with me being a man and all that), however, I feel it might be a good idea to just get my opinion out there and be done with it. The topic of women in IT is a hot-button issue, so let me just go out guns blazing: assuming women need special treatment, help, protection, and affirmative action is just as insulting and degrading as outright claiming women have no place in IT - maybe even more so.
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What seems to turn off a lot of my female colleagues is the sit in the room and hero-code for 15 hours to come up with the 'solution.' I can't speak for all my my colleagues, but that seems to be a common thread. The women I work with interact more on a personal level. They like talking to clients, and often have better social skills. They often make good leads as well. I think other companies have problems recruiting and retaining women as a part of the culture of that company rather than as something about IT. Overseas there are women that go into IT and CS with greater frequency. I currently work for a company that is able to build a culture where they can attract and retain women to the point where 50/50 teams are common.

As far as the premise of the post, it's flawed. The reason we have preference programs for veteran, minority and women owned firms is it's not a meritocracy in contracting. Even in government contracting there's a lot that rides on history and personal relationships. It's my personal estimate that maybe 20% of all federal RFPs are truly competitive RFP's. The rest are written to favor specific vendors. (Which is not always a bad thing - sometimes you don't want to change vendors just because a particular contracting vehicle has run its course). But the point is that the program manager that you start working with today in 20 years may become be a COTR on a large project, or fairly senior in the office of the CIO. The team lead you're working with today may become a director at another system integrator/engineering firm with which you will do business.

For decades women have been shut out of clubs where their male colleagues would go after work and talk shop. Augusta National still does not admit women at their golf course, for example. That's the kind of place these guys 'run into' each other or have man-dates to go golfing. When you go to Vegas for a conference, you hit the strip clubs. You wind up going into meetings with fairly senior people (director to C-level) and many are male. And they're all in their 40's, 50's and even 60's. They built their personal networks when they were golfing and hitting the strip clubs in their 20's and 30's. In the late 70's and 80's, was well before the politically correct era. It was common for women to be treated, in terms of pay and dignity, as second class co-workers. Forget about equal pay for "equivalent" jobs. It's still common for women to be offered lower starting salaries for the *same* jobs.

So, fast forward 30 years and you walk into a room where the deputy CIO and his senior staff are almost all male. The senior leadership from the prime contractor and the large subs are all male. Some of them have worked with each other for decades. The idea you are going to break into that network because you will be judged as worthy on the basis of your good work is balderdash. It is nonsense.

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