Through this article, I invite you to plunge into the world of IT with the look of a woman! My objective is to try to understand why this sector is so unequal in terms of parity, before sharing with you my feelings and my experience of evolving within a predominantly male environment in the consultant world!
In Europe, some areas of activity have very few women in their workforce. With only 20%, IT is one of them.
At a time when gender parity is a debatable issue, one may wonder why the rate is so low.
Are women voluntarily excluded from academic courses?
Is it a willingness of managers and employers to dismiss them?
Are they fleeing the IT field because of a lack of consideration?
A shortage of IT profiles
To answer these questions, it is first necessary to look at the IT market in general. Europe is characterized by a shortage of profiles in the IT professions. Recruiters have to “hunt” for potential candidates and use cunning and creativity to achieve their goal. It is becoming increasingly common for students to be offered a position even before they graduate. Specialized streams are scarce and are unable to supply enough graduates, regardless of gender. Specialized courses are rare and do not provide enough graduates, regardless of gender.
From 1972 to 1985, the computer science was the stream with the second highest number of women engineers in technical training. If we look at the composition of students cohorts today, we see that the percentage of women is also extremely low: about 15%. There are few male candidates and even fewer female candidates despite all the efforts of specialized schools to try to attract a greater volume of women.
This gender imbalance in enrolment is therefore simply a consequence of the lack of female students and deeper problems related to the lack of inclusion in specialized streams..
A lack of knowledge of IT professions
We can now ask ourselves why these courses do not attract female students. Analyses of universities and specialized schools that have achieved lasting parity in their IT promotions and programs show that IT is still far too rooted in clichés that are not very rewarding for female students seeking freedom and equality.
The IT professions are not well known to professors and students and suffer from the lack of female teaching staff. The stereotype of the computer engineer, frail and pale, with no social life and stuck days and night behind a computer screen writing code, is wrong, yet deeply rooted in people’s minds. This vision very simplistic, is far from reality. IT is a very broad field with a multitude of professions, technologies and opportunities. There are many options and evolutions available to all.
Perhaps one day the workforce will become perfectly mixed… In the meantime, for the handful of women who have already chosen IT, it is necessary to know how to impose oneself and make their place among all these men. According to the companies, this is a more or less easy task.
My place in the Positive Thinking Company
I am woman and I’ve been working for several years in IT services, I have got used to working in this male universe. The Positive Thinking Company which has employed me for almost 8 years has 2,500 employees all fields combined in the world. It is interesting to note that we are only 24% women despite the efforts made by our HR teams in terms of gender mix and equality!
A short while ago, one of my newly hired colleagues questioned one of our HR Leader about the very small number of women consultants in the company and asked him what was being put in place to make the workforce more mixed in the IT teams. This comment made me think a lot and I wondered myself if being so few was a problem for me. On reflection, the answer is NO. What would bother me would be not to be treated on an equal basis with my male colleagues, or to be subjected to inappropriate behavior.
Some companies have this mentality. I speak with full knowledge of the facts because one of the previous IT services companies I worked for was one of them: inappropriate jokes towards female employees, wage gaps, dismissals upon return from maternity leave, etc.
Today, I have the chance to work for a completely different company in which I was able to evolve to climb the ladder and become Head of RPA Solutions and Innovations in Switzerland. Although I am surrounded almost exclusively by men, I have never had to endure or witness the slightest misogynistic or inappropriate behavior.
At the Positive Thinking Company, I am not considered differently because I am a woman, I am not subject to gender discrimination or harassment, my salary is aligned with that of my male colleagues, and 5 years ago, I lived my pregnancy serenely and the return from my leave was smooth. I am judged solely on my work, commitment and results, just like all other employees.
Fortunately, there are many other companies that operate like this.
So, yes, you can be a woman, flourish in your work, manage a successful career in IT and have a family life simultaneously. We can meet fair and upright managers who will not make us regret being born women, even in a sector with a high male predominance. Education, respect and integrity enable everyone to thrive and work in a healthy environment.