Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Computerworld: What IT Women Want

Computerworld had a discussion with a group of "highly successful businesswomen" after their participation in a forum sponsored by the New Jersey chapter of the Society for Information Management. They discussed the (declining) participation of women in information technology careers. Some interesting points, with editorial comments from yours truly:

  • The very familiar forecast of massive looming shortage of professionals. You know, folks are always saying that there will be a shortage of computer professionals X years from now, where X>0 and never seems to decrease. Yes, developers were getting some pretty outrageous benefits during the dot com bubble, but that was merely a symptom of a mania, not a structural shortage of workers. Not to say that a career in CS or IT isn't a good choice, but a "35 million-person labor shortage" by 2031 is just a crazy forecast (like the dot com forecasts of Dow 20K).
  • "If I get a call from a client and there's a crisis, but the next call is the nurse at my child's school, am I going to hop on a plane and fly to Chicago or get in the car and drive to the school? Many women would choose to go to the child. If society wants women to make that choice, how do we handle that in terms of our need to excel in our careers?" And why would we expect a man to ditch his kid and get to work? Society's mouth may say "choose to go to the child," but its lips say, "get your priorities straight" (the job should come first).
  • Much of the discussion focused on hiring and career development, rather than the front end of the pipeline: why fewer and fewer women are choosing CS and IT careers.

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