My first IT job after college was working for a power company at one of their plants. As you might expect, it was a mostly male staff in all departments. IT had 5 of us with one woman. I moved from their to the corporate office, with many more women, but in my development area of 12 or so, we had 3 or 4 women, or about 25%. I progressed from there to a 3 man staff, then a 14 person staff (2 women), then a 10 person department (3 women), a 20 person group (2 women), and finally to my current job of 1 person consisting of 1 man
Why am I bringing this up? I saw a story recently about women leaving IT in greater numbers than men. And females not entering CS programs at a rate exceeding that of men. There's an interesting follow up from some women working in the business looking at the Gartner report.
It strikes me as strange since I've seen more and more women every time I've attended a conference. I didn't think it was close to the 40-some percent mentioned, but it seemed like more woman were getting into the database field. Maybe they are and leaving other areas? Hard to say.
I'll say this. I do think that we should have an even playing field for all genders, races, sexualities, ages, etc. If someone fits into your group and they can do the job, you should consider them, regardless of their classification. Of course that's hard to do when people tend to hire people they like and feel comfortable with, which means people of one race usually hire within their race before they go to others. Men tend to hire men, young people tend to hire young people, etc. Doesn't make it a great system, but it is a human nature thing.
I hate to think that people are discriminated against in anything, but especially IT where skills have always mattered. But even more, I think it's good that we have a diversity of people working for us. Those different views, the other perspective, the richness of have a wide variety of people really enrich our companies and workplaces.
I'd like to get more on this from woman, but for everyone out there, try this. The next time that you get to hire someone or influence a hire, look to expand the diversity and choose a qualified candidate that perhaps is very different from yourself.
PS - There's a thread about this and we'll be bringing you some guest editorials this week from some women working in IT.