Would I encourage my daughter to pursue a career in IT?

  • I'm a guy, my daughter is in college and yes, I've encouraged her to pursue a career in IT. That's entirely her decision, but I wouldn't think of discouraging her or any other woman from this field. I've been in IT for 34 years, always with big companies, and have found it rewarding & challenging. I've had women as co-workers, managers, CIOs, and supervised a few. I considered them all as individuals & never thought about stereotypes in my working relationships with them as opposed the the guys. Oh, except that I did marry one of them. At my current job, there are probably 15-20% women in the IT department.

    One thing challenging about this business is that technology is frequently changing, but that also keeps it interesting. Count me as clueless why women would not want in...

    Speaking of clueless, I don't get the dishwasher thingy.

  • Excellent article, Lynda.

    In my career I have had some jobs that I loved, some that I absolutely despised, and some that were so-so.  I find that whether or not it was a good job depends not so much on the nature of the work, but on the people that I work with, be they peers or superiors or customers.

    So, to me, whether or not my daughter would be happy in IT is not a function of the work, but rather the people she would work with.  And I would think this applies to any profession.



    - Paul


  • Lynda, Good Article.

    Now, judging from my experience, I will advise ladies to work for IT. Similar to Kathi Kellenberger's dauther I was a chemist working with software (processing results, creating programs for thermodynamic calculations and participating in the creation of the first database of analysis techniques). Before I selected chemistry as my major, I wanted to be a geologist but my parents told me that if I ever plan to have children, I would rather prefer chemistry with less travel and if I want to work in geology they will gladly hire a chemist too. When I moved to America with 2 children and started looking for a job, I had a choice between chemistry and computers. When working in the lab as a scientist, it is difficult to work part time, close to home or to have your hours and I had to start with part time then. If you start the experiment, you have to finish it. So I opted for IT. 

    It is not the matter, ladies or genlemen, whoever needs more flexible time, the IT carier may fit into the schedule. I do hear the replies that we have to work overtime and odd hours, but at least you can find a job with flexible hours

    Regards,Yelena Varsha

  • I don't think IT would be happy with my daughters!

    One just graduated from college in December and the other is about half way through. Neither took any computer classes but being able to use one is a must.

    Neither have any desire to work in IT. Maybe because Dad does. One does show some aptitude towards it but IT does not recruit well, hence that may be part of the problem of why the imbalance, failure to recruit. Even my Son, who is a 4.0 plus senior in High School and has discovered that he has and enjoys his advanced math skills does not see IT as career for him.

    It also hard for women to work in a job that requires odd hours and such when, just as their carriers are staring to stabilize and become fun, the baby/family needs start up. I consider that far more important (raising a family) than any career including IT. If you don't want a family, then it's not an issue. But if you do, then it becomes a big problem and both jobs suffer. This may be leading to drop out. I wonder if there is any data on the age groups of women in IT and if it shows the prime birth years as being the lowest amount employed.

    I think that working from home becomes a great option for many women who must or wants to have a balanced family and career life.

    Ask Mr. Mom Steve...  


  • I'm not an expert in the area of psychology but I do like to read.  Here's something I learned:

    There was a study done using the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator.  It revealed that 2/3 of women excelled in the sterotypical "feminine" qualities like listening, nurturing, compassion, and that 1/3 of men excelled in these same qualities.  Similarly, 2/3 of men excelled in the sterotypical "male" qualities like strength, decisiveness, and being analytical, and 1/3 of women excelled in the same.

    Nothing like overhearing a group of women (or men) in a bar having after drinks after work, saying "Men (or women) are like _____". 

    Therefore, what is it to be a man?  To be a woman?  We could write volumes on these questions!

    Seems to me that the question of deciding to encourage one's daughter to work in IT depends on, what are her aptitudes? 


    - Paul


  • Women in IT?  So soon have we forgotten.  Late great Admiral Grace M. Hopper comes to mind.  Memeber of the original Codasyl, pivotal in the design of COBOL, responsible for changing FORTRAN to WHATFOR, the term "bug" came from her team.  Although she would not admit having anything to do with APL it proved that a useful symbolic programming lanuage was practical where the symbology was not based on written human language elements (words, sentences, etc.).  One hell of a good teacher.  I've talked with people who had her as an instructor.

    I had to develop an app for a company that used an Oracle database.  The client had Oracle resources.  The best person for me to work with, that knew their stuff and was thoughly professional, was a woman.  The client project manager was a woman. 

    I've worked with women developers and for women supervisors.  SO WHAT?  As with anything I would encourage a person, young or otherwise, to look at all aspects of a job and pursue what is in line with ther own self.

    "A difference that make no difference is no difference."  That line is credited to Gene Roddenberry.


    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • It's a hard question. I've been in IT over a decade, from enginneer to developer, to DBA, to architect. It's been a really hard path. Being always the only female technical person on the team, i found it's so hard to work in a male-dominated industry. Ahthough I've been promoted by many male executives, it's hard to get mentoringship from the male peers, and it's hard to supervise the male subordinates. Most of these men would rather date me. After years of struggling, paying the dues, I finally have reached a very comfortable position and level in my field and in this industry: a well-paid job with flexible hours, and doing creative, challenging work. Still, it's hard for me to move up to the executive-level position. If you research any female executives of any Fortune 500 companies, they all come from sales and marking, or financing background, including the CEOs of AutoDesk, and E-Bay. Looking back my career, I should have got into sales or markeing just a few years of obtaining hands-on programming experience post the college graduation.

    To make the point quick, I'm a single mothe with a 5-year-old daughter in Los Angeles. I wouldn't push her to the IT field. Her education would be comprehensively covered. If she does develop an interest in science and technology, I would encourage her to get a degree, like I did. However, pursuit a career in sales and markeing of technological products. Eventually, the science, high-tech, or bio-tech will be the majority of emerging industry in developed countries. So no matter what you, it's good to understand the fundamental of those fields.

    Lilian Gong


  • (If you research any female executives of any Fortune 500 companies, they all come from sales and marking, or financing background, including the CEOs of AutoDesk,)

    Actually Autodesk Carol Bartz is from a CS background told to do CS because she loved math but hate to teach, she had her daughter very late in life and promised to make sure no man will try what she experienced with her daughter.


    Kind regards,
    Gift Peddie

  • If my daughter wants to major in IT, I would not discourage her.  If she has not decided what to major in college, I would not encourage her to major in IT.

  • WOW, I feel like I am in an other world bubble. I have been in the field for 20+ years from a young woman to a mother with 4 children who left the field for 8 years to be home with her kids. I came back part time when my youngest was three, she is now 17...I'm still part time although now I work 30 hours a week instead of 20.  I have thought that IT is a perfert mother job, working from home when my kids are sick, flexible hours. Also,I have worked almost solely for women since returning from my hiatus..several layers up too.  And yes I would recommend IT to my daughters. I was able to come back easily because I was a hard worker/team player and had an established reputation with several bosses. I know my time off plus part time status has depressed my wages but according to the lastest gov't stats I still make in the top 10% of all women in the US. And finally in spite of out-sourcing; companies will always need people on site.

  • You are lucky that your company let you work flexible hours.

    When my son was young, my manager denied my promotion because he said I took too much time off because I had to take my son to the doctor and everything. Also they said I was not flexible because I had to leave at 5:00pm to pick up my son at daycare. I made up my hours during weekends and nights and got my project done on time but they did not see it that way.

    One day the daycare called me at 11:30 am and told me my son had chicken pox, I went to pick him up. At 1:30pm, my manager called me at home and asked me when I could come back to work.

    My manager and VP admitted that I was one the best programmers that they knew, even the CEO and the former CEO who became the consultant recognized my work. However they refused to me a promotion because I had a young son. I felt it was discrimiation.

    I did not think at that time but I should report to the labor department and sued them.

    It did not matter, I sent out my resume and got another job which was much better.

    The CEO even came to my cube to say good-bye.

    Ironically they fired the VP a few months after I left.

  • The work place makes a *BIG* difference. I have been extremelly lucky to work for very good companies but I have seen the bad ones too. IT is a tough environment and I have to work very hard but I can not think of anything more rewarding at the moment.

    True, enterprenur sounds good, inventor sounds good but those are too risky. I feel that with a lot less money than those who succeed in the above mentioned fields IT still can be a very creative experience.

    In regards to outsourcing... it happens on *every* field not just IT and is just another step in the globalization of the economy. You have to be competitive to survive regardless of what you do.


    * Noel

  • I would encourage my girls to pursue something they find interesting and challenging, whether that is IT or not. I agree that the specific environment for each job is the important factor and I can honestly say that it is not the same for all IT jobs. In fact, I am currently a network administrator and I work in a very family friendly environment. While I am on-call 24/7, if our burglar alarm goes off in the middle of the night, I can have the police respond so that I would not have to report to my office alone in the middle of the night. I have built plenty of redundancy into my systems, so if I need to stay home with a sick child, it is not an issue, though I usually do get phone calls while I am home on those days. People in my office are very respectful and typically do not vent on IT, even when they are frustrated. While this isn't as nice as when I was running my own consulting company (dissolved after 9/11 since most people no longer want an Air Force Reservist as their primary IT consultant), it works for my family. BTW, I work for an elected county official in a mid-sized Ohio county.

  • This editorial is a red herring, the problem that women face in the work place is the problem, not the problems women have working in IT.  Women face almost insurmountable obstacles in returning to work after a hiatus of even a couple of years in any profession.  That is the problem that is reflected in the statistics of women in IT.

  • I would agree in that employers are looking for people with "recent experience".  Then too these are the same people that post job openings that say "eight years experience in SQL-2005 is required."  Looking for a pre-alpha team member here, are we?

    So is this and IT problem or an HR problem?  I'd be looking for somebody who can learn and adapt.  Somebody who can juggle multiple tasks.  A person that can make my customers feel OK while trying to solve the problem.  Somebody who can see through a smoke screen put up by a user and spot when the user is not telling you the real story.  As to gender ... well.

    "No, mommy, I didn't do anything wrong.  I swear."

    ATBCharles Kincaid

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