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Women in IT

Hi All,

Campus Technology magazine has a cover story about “Women in IT”. I am wondering what some of your perspectives are on the this topic. Any agree or disagree?

Richard J. Bazile

Dean, Learning Resources

College of Central Florida
Learning Resource Center
3001 SW College Road

Ocala, FL 34474-4415

Phone: 352-873-5805 x1347


For any technology-based initiative, You have to risk having something not work. Don't be afraid to fail. - Ken Weil

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Women in IT

Hi Richard:  Yes, I read the article in Campus Technology!

I am very lucky because at Lynn University we have a very diverse IT department and we have a strong female presence. In my unit, Information Systems women are majority and it helps to balance the whole department numbers.  Out of 3 IT directors, 2 are female. My daily experience does not reflect the article but I know it is an issue.    


The first point  to mention is that overall (no gender related) less people aspire leadership roles on IT. This is not new,  several articles and blogs are mentioning the  alarming trend.  That trend paired with a wave of retirements expected in the coming years (although delayed because economic environment) will create a vacuum.  Does anyone see here an opportunity here or it is just me?


Second,  when it comes to women in top IT positions,  I do not think it is only an issue in Higher Education.  It is an overall problem in any industry but it is a big issue in science and technology fields.   In 2008  Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carolyn Buck Luce, and Lisa J. Servon published a great study for Harvard Business Review  “The Athena Factor:  Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology” that talks about the exodus of women in science.   Their study says that contrary to common belief, there are large number of women in science and technology fields but they are abandoning their profession opting out of full time work at a higher rate than men.  The most important part of the study is  the exodus is not a constant rate but a key moment in women’s lives (mid to late thirties and they talk about reasons why).  This trend  goes in direct relation to the women’s path into their careers especially climbing to higher level positions.   

You can Google “The Athena Factor” or read more here


As women in Technology contemplating a future in IT leadership, I found a lot of “aha” moments in the HBR study, not only as a woman but as a manager.  The best part of the study is the recommendations to the issue like help women to return to the workforce or the role of mentoring.  




Maria Piret

Director Information Systems

Lynn University






Women in IT



Thank you for this comment! The link you have provided are great as well. (But at $295, I’m not so sure. J)

I think it is great that there is some gender equality at Lynn. I am left wondering how this came to be. Meaning, was there a conscious effort to make sure there was a balance. Maybe you know. It would be great to think that the administration wanted it.


I do believe many do not aspire to IT leadership as in years past and that does concern me. I also wonder if that is because of the current and recently former leaders making it seem as if it is not worth it. And yes, there is opportunity abound. As you point out in the article we could help reverse this by finding mentors and connecting them with mentees.


P.S. We are looking for someone to represent this group at the West/Southwest Regional Conference Feb. 22-24, 2012. Please consider attending and send along any names you come up with.


P.S.S. Please also ask your colleagues to join this group and help to create some buzz about diversity in IT.



Richard Bazile


Women in IT

Thanks Richard!  Google and shall find J

Great topic and I would love to hear from others!

In a nutshell, the article is based on the findings of a research project targeting women in SET fields.  It was sponsored by several corporations Alcoa, Cisco,

Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, and Pfizer in cooperation with the Hidden Brain Drain task force. 

The  Bureau of Labor statistics predicted that over the 2006–2016 period, job opportunities in SET will grow five times faster than other sectors.  Traditionally high tech companies have looked at foreign talent to overcome for shortages. Unfortunately after 9/11 US immigration rules have become more restrictive and other countries are also competing for that available talent. Lots of foreign talent that come to the USA for opportunity and education are being recruited back to their country of origin creating more pressure in the sector.  Higher education does not escape the trend, in this economic downturn I still find hard to recruit talent.


One of the alternatives explored by high tech executives was to focus on female talent.   The study found that contrary to common believe, a high percentage  of highly qualified scientists, engineers, and technologists on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders are female (about 41%).  Unfortunately, over time 52% of those qualified females quit their jobs because of hostile work environment and extreme job pressure. 

The first part of the study analyze some of the reasons why women leave SET careers: (1) Hostile macho culture, (2) Isolation –this item was mentioned in the Campus technology article, (3) Lack of a clear career paths, (4) Risk and rewards: women have a tendency to be risk adverse, (5) Extreme work pressure.


The second part of the study analyzes  at what point women are leaving their careers and what can companies do avoid the brain drain of their female talent.  The study found that women between 35-44 years are most likely to abandon their careers because when faced with tough life decisions like starting a family or care for elderly family members.

The greatest part of the study is they mention examples of what companies can do to intervene and help women to stay in the careers they love.  Options like flexible leave of absence or flexible work programs,   creating on-ramp programs to allow female employees to return to work after a long leave,  or expanding mentoring programs are great examples to help women to continue their careers. 

At the end  it may be that a simple economic fact, a shortage in skilled labor that will push companies to revisit their practices and culture  and be creative in recruiting and retaining talent.


After reading the study I think it is the culture at Lynn that contributed to the diversity.  I can certainly say by experience that I never questioned leaving my job when I decided to start a family 4 years ago.  Lynn has a culture of promoting their own talent, I have flexibility, a supporting boss and an incredible team.  We do not have a hostile environment or I feel isolated.  I was able to take my leave and return without any problems.  I know I would probably struggle   being a IT manager and a new mom in most IT corporations.  The flexible and low stress environment in higher education is very attractive to women,  I use it to my benefit when recruiting staff.  Having lots of sick days and vacation time may not be a compelling argument for many man but for  moms, the benefit is priceless.


Sorry for the long email.  I will be attending the Educause Enterprise 2012 conference in Indianapolis May 17-18.  It would be a pleasure to meet with other colleagues of this group, or have a representation.  I am part of the organizing committee so any ideas are welcome!   

Please consider submitting a presentation for the Enterprise conference.  Calls for proposals are open until Dec 16.

You can find us online at







Maria Piret

Director Information Systems

Lynn University












Women in IT



Great comments!  Thanks for sharing them with us.  Culture and attitude are everything, especially when it comes to diversity.




I echo Maria’s comments about submitting a proposal for the Enterprise IT Leadership Conference. (Great plug Maria…nicely done!!) If you like, I would be happy to co-present with you. 



- Mac -


Keith W. McIntosh, M.B.A.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for IT (Acting)


Information Technology

Pima County Community College District



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