Women in Technology

  • Elaine O'Donnell

    SSC Rookie

    Points: 46

    I'm a 53 year old lady programmer - it's a bit like calling yourself a ladyboy! Initially I worked in research and there was no bias there. Even though only about a third of the programmers were female, we were certainly held in high regard. However lately I've been working in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the attitude among management is that only men can program. At 53 I don't care what they think but for someone young it makes life unnecessarily harder.

  • kerry_hood

    Mr or Mrs. 500

    Points: 564

    I guess this is the point where us females crawl out of the woodwork...

    I'm not a twenties-something (er, forties-something) but I am female (and in the UK). What I noticed, when I started programming, was that at college and when I started work, the male female split was 40/60. But the women who I trained with and later trained-on-the-job, all went into project management, and did not share my technical talent/interest. I can't think when I last met another woman programmer, but it must be over a decade.

    When they had children, they all went into "Resource Management" or left and went into education (you try working around 12 weeks school holidays).

    But the teenage girls I talk to now don't seem to think that programming is an option for them, they don't think they're clever enough, it's seen as too 'geeky' and, as one famously said to a politician, "just look at the boys who do it". The exception to this is my daughter (who knows how rewarding I find it), so perhaps we are lacking role models?

    Admittedly, I'm as guilty as anyone else, the thought of going into my local school and promoting this as a career makes me want the ground to open up and swallow me... But I do think that as a profession/industry we miss potential talent, and a different approach to problem solving, by losing the girls.

  • Johan van Tonder

    Old Hand

    Points: 371

    Phil Factor (1/5/2010)

    Clearly something must be done to reverse the trend.

    What steps exactly do you suggest be taken to reverse the trend, Mr Phil?

  • barriorm


    Points: 11

    I have to echo the comments made -- my experiences in professional life mirrors your experiences. I too am a 40ish DBA and Professor who has been in the industry for 20+ years. I am the only female in my department at the university I work for and I was the only female in my department when I was in industry. I had to fight for my promotion to Level 2 DBA because "...there are on call duties and, you know, you are a female...". Most meetings that I attend in industry, government and academia, I am the only female -- I once presented very technical research to a room full of men from the defense industry and ended up with several invites for dinner. Recently, I was being trained to become department chair with glowing reviews but was replaced with someone less skilled/experienced because '...he has a family to support..' -- as if I didn't have a family too. So yes, being in the business is very frustrating, isolating and intimidating.

    I have to disagree with the kind person who said that most women's professional women's organizations are 'pity parties'. I belong to one such organization and it is definitely not a pity party. We offer networking opportunities, technology seminars, technology camps for middle/high school girls and raise money for scholarships for females looking to further their education in technology. At our 2009 Signature Event, we raised $211k for scholarships from major organizations in industry. And, we do welcome men to our organization and actually have quite a few. With that, I would respectfully suggest that maybe the right organization has yet to be found.


  • david.wright-948385

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4028

    Surely the point is that people should do what they enjoy and (hopefully) what they're good at, not be persuaded because of some strange belief that everything should be gender balanced. Or perhaps there should be a campaign to encourage more men into (for instance) midwifery.

    It is accepted by most people that women are generally better at some things than men. Why is there such a problem with the converse?

  • Jen-574053


    Points: 445

    I think that there needs to be educational support generally for younger women - role models and so on. Interestingly, as someone who has worked in Paris, there was a 50/50 even split in my department and there was none of this rubbish. Generally in France, it's regarded as ok, and NOT unusual, to be a technical female. So the French have got the right idea; make the most of the skill sets you have. We, in the Uk, need to catch up. (Kerry - I'm in the UK as well so that makes two of us 🙂 )

    Microsoft, for example, demonstrably think that women can do the role; it's just that we might need to get over our low social expectations of women generally. A few weeks ago, I found that a number of the Microsoft SQL Server development team women are from South-West Scotland, believe it or not. This isn't equality commission stuff, it is about commercial decisions about making the most of our skill set. Since our customers often have a lot of female workers, it is better for a company to have a range of people with a mix of attributes to reflect the customers they serve, who ultimately pay our wages.

  • Gail Shaw

    SSC Guru

    Points: 1004474

    barriorm (1/6/2010)

    I have to disagree with the kind person who said that most women's professional women's organizations are 'pity parties'.

    I said no such thing. If you're going to quote me, please do so correctly. I spoke of one meeting of the local organisation in my area that I attended. I made no generalisation of any form. I did not say 'some', 'many' or 'most' at all. I quote:

    GilaMonster (1/6/2010)

    Also, the one meeting I did attend was partially a 'pity-party'.

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • kg-590410


    Points: 2

    I've had a variety of experiences with co-workers, when I was employed by someone other than myself. All most of the men I've worked with are great. But, it's the few who aren't, who really don't want to work with women, who have made life difficult and stressful. Folks that complain about the quality of my work to our supervisor, with out actually looking at the work or those that destroy my work and claim it was missing in the first place. I've been edged out of more technical aspects of development into more client facing duties, losing valuable experience. Some will simply refuse to work with me. Or, some will bully and make life difficult. It can be very subtle and difficult to address directly.

    But, honestly, I've also seen men do this to other men. It seems to be part of the culture. There seems to be a need to test everyone and cull the herd based on the individuals critieria for healthy.

    The development game is a young man's game. I am completely aware of that and accept it. And, I have carved out a place for myself in it. I love the work. I am never happier than when lost in the world of code and creating.

  • david_wendelken


    Points: 2388

    kerry_hood (1/6/2010)

    I'm not a twenties-something (er, forties-something) but I am female (and in the UK). What I noticed, when I started programming, was that at college and when I started work, the male female split was 40/60. But the women who I trained with and later trained-on-the-job, all went into project management, and did not share my technical talent/interest. I can't think when I last met another woman programmer, but it must be over a decade.

    I'm a male and have been working in the IT industry since 1982. When I started there were a decent number of female technical people. As the years have gone by, I've seen the above shift also. Don't know how/why it started, but it's a self-perpetuating problem.

    I'm very active in user groups. I've noticed the % of women at user groups is now way less than 20%. More like 5%. Again, I don't know why.

    On the one hand, I would dearly love more women in the IT industry. Competent women are a joy to work with. 🙂

    On the other hand, it's a proven fact that as more women join a given profession, the wages in that profession drop. If that's not a reason for management to recruit more women in IT, I don't know what is!

  • Jen-574053


    Points: 445

    We should all raise a toast to the women who help to develop and support SQL Server; after all, this is SQLServerCentral, and we all have a common interest in this software.

    It's not that women can't program; those who think that they can't program might give a thought to the female developers who help to build SQL Server next time they ramp up SQL Server.

    The repeated theme of this forum seems to be that many women are edged out and sidelined along the way, perhaps through a testosterone fuelled, competitive environment. Perhaps for some women, it's not a choice to do another role but the decision is made for them. This can be the reason that there isn't many female programmers; not because they can't, but because they are not allowed to be.

    Perhaps more companies, and individuals, will follow Microsoft's example of allowing women the freedom to contribute, without barriers based on a single criterion like gender.

  • ryan.mcatee

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 857

    I see very little sexism in the region I live in (A very red-state area in the midwest). I work with many females and have never personally questioned or seen their competency questioned by others because of their gender. If there are more males in the field I would attribute it to biological factors: women are more right-brained as a general rule and thus probably have less interest in technological fields.

  • Shaun McGuile

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4111

    ok declining numbers - recession is on globally

    Some women in the industry may have left to have a family an upon returning from that hard labour of love found that the jobs are no longer there.

    Discrimination of any form other than by merit is never a good thing.

    So setting gender balance ratio's based on some statistic is at best a dubious practice and at worst totally evil.

    This topic should just be left well alone...there's too much harm in it 😉

    'Thank goodness for PASS. This is the ideal organisation to take a dominant role in making sure that there is no sexist bias against the appointing of SQL Server Professionals, and that youngsters are encouraged to view the profession of DBA and Database developer as being one that is great for anyone with the required skills and attitude, whatever their sex, age, culture, race or disability.'

    However the above I totally agree with 😀

    Hiding under a desk from SSIS Implemenation Work :crazy:

  • LadyReader

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1192

    I am female and have been programming/developing/analyzing systems since the mid-1970's. I won my current position by being selected by a male manager from among a large group of interviewees, all of whom were male.

    What did I bring to the table? A degree in computer science, and advanced degree in business, many years of experience in the business applications world, and the ability to articulate clearly how I solved problems. It has been said that women are better communicators.

    At my previous company the systems staff was much larger, and my impression was that the male/female split was about even.

  • roger.plowman


    Points: 10243

    Most of my career has been spent as a solo programmer, so my day-to-day contact with *any* other programmers has been limited. Over 30 some-odd years I've probably worked closely with maybe two dozen individuals (so I saw their work and knew who did it).

    In that time I worked with exactly *3* female programmers. Two were *way* beyond master-level, one was sub-par (IMO). I think the reason more women aren't programmers is a simple lack of interest. Let's face it, the vast majority of the world's population isn't suited to a programming life.

    Even the vast majority of *programmers* are best described as "adequate". Many burn-out after a few years and move on to things they like better--be it management or something else.

    The love of the craft is what separates the "true" (rolling eyes) programmer from the rest. If you don't feel delighted every single day diving into code, why are you wasting your precious life? I've been lucky in that programming is not only my profession, it's my passion.

    Anyone, male or female, that shares that passion will tend toward the exceptional. How can they not? If you don't love your craft, (whatever craft it might be) how can you possibly give your best?

  • Jen-574053


    Points: 445

    Does anyone know the gender split of SQLServerCentral membership? In other words, how many male members and how many female?

    Just curious!

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