I’ve been thinking about this recently and today there was an article in the SMH exploring the pros of being a female in the IT industry. I was 1 of 2 females in my IT degree at uni and am almost always the only female in meetings these days. I must stress this is mainly because of the segment of the IT industry I work in (infrastructure service management), as I know gender ratios are much more balanced in other segments of IT.
Although there are some negatives for being in the minority, I personally think the benefits outweigh the cons. Being one of few females, my work gets noticed more easily by senior management, I find people are more willing to help me with things , and (this may be a negative but I see it as a positive) people expect less of me. I say this as a positive because it means when I deliver my work, it usually exceeds expectations. I also feel that being a woman with (generally speaking) better communication skills, I can bridge gaps between a room full of men who are all speaking English but don’t understand each other.
It definitely helps if women are ‘male-minded’ and I find most women who have chosen a career in IT are. Similarly these woman are quite strong and won’t get walked over very easily (an important trait if you are dealing mostly with men). Although ‘boys’ can be immature, joking around with them makes them accept you more easily. I’ve learnt in the past 7 years that dressing up in a nice pencil skirt and frilly blouse won’t get you as far as a pair of black pants and shirt with cufflinks.
There’s also many support networks in place for women who work in male-dominated industries. There are groups such as FITT (Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications Group) and SWEIT (Sydney Women in Engineering and IT). I was involved in the latter and we went to various girls highschools in Sydney promoting a career in IT and Engineering to the girls. Google conducts (or used to) Women in Technology breakfasts, Geek Girl Coffees meet periodically, and most large companies have women support networks in place.
Can I stress that the comments I’ve made in this post are solely based on my own personal experiences. Oh and sorry for the lack of pictures!
Also: the inner kid in me really wants to play with this. Hell, not even my inner child, this adult woman wants to play!
Do you work in a male-dominated industry? Has your experience been positive?