Women accounted for 16.6 percent of all network and computer systems administrator positions in 2006, down from 23.4 percent in 2000. At the management level, the imbalance persists. Among computer and IS managers, for example, 27.2 percent were women in 2006.” (Source InfoWorld)

While women represent almost 60 percent of the workforce, they account for only a little more than 32 percent of the IT workforce. Addressing women’s under-representation not only will help tackle the anticipated IT worker shortage but will help foster a diverse workforce, a cornerstone of both innovation and economic development”, says Eileen Trauth, professor at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology.
The researchers also discovered that women’s career choices are motivated by a number of factors, and those shift and change throughout their careers. This reinforces the researchers’ conclusion that static hiring policies won’t appeal to women, Trauth added.

Updated November 2010:

According to an article in HireStrategy: In 2008, women held only 25 percent of all professional IT-related jobs, according to the Colorado-based National Center for Women and Information Technology’s report, “Women in IT: The Facts.”

The Reasons for leaving

Are women leaving IT industry only because of the problems they foresee in managing their work-life balance issues, especially as in most competitive technology companies the working hours are on the rise and the work becomes more demanding for a working woman or a mother if she has to be at work longer hours? That assumption might not be true, a report released May 14, 2007 stands to shift this perception by drawing attention to the fact that tech workplaces may not be the most favorable environments:
What was very intriguing was that such a large percentage of women said that they didn’t find their organizational climates to be very inviting to women. They’re saying that they don’t feel that their voices are heard and it causes them to question whether this is an environment that they wish to stay in,” Patricia Schaefer, president of Compel and co-author of the report, told eWEEK.

Sure enough the reasons for leaving are many, which ones do you agree with?

  • Women still find the technology field highly male dominated and often struggle during moving up the ladder
  • Few women in higher positions in the IT industry is one of the reasons women feel de-motivated in their career paths
  • Lack of smart networking skills often results in lower promotion rates
  • Misconceptions from the school-going years that men are mode adept and dominant in technology sector

Maybe not all of the above are true but highly likely that most are. Which ones do you agree with, appreciate your comments!

What can be and is being done to Attract Female Interest and Contribution to the Tech World

In addition to addressing issues related to why women are leaving the IT industry it is important to attract and educate school going girls on science and technology related subjects. If the interest is shown from the school going age, it is highly likely that they would be more attracted to pursue it as a profession in future. The concept of an online IT degree possibility can also be introduced in these essential formation years.

Some of the organizations that are helping school-going girls and women in this direction are:

  • SAGE, based in Sacramento, CA, is devoted to the encouragement and empowerment of middle-school and high-school girls in pursuit of careers in computer-related technology, life sciences, engineering, science, math and law.
  • The Global Alliance for Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce is a collaborative initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network (WEPAN); and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS).
    Its mission is to support efforts to diversify the global engineering and science workforce, to increase the role and participation of women in the science, math, engineering and technology (SMET) workforce worldwide and to support other areas of diversity, including social groups, ethnicity, age, discipline, languages, and cultures.
  • Women in Technology International WITI’s mission is to empower women worldwide to achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and economic prosperity.
  • The Society of Women Engineers also devotes their efforts to encouraging young women in the fields of Maths, Science and Technology. They have even started a national (US) tour called, “WOW! That’s Engineering.” These are hands-on events for middle-school aged girls to learn that science and engineering can be fun and interesting. It goes back to catching the girls at a young age and showing that they are perfectly capable and needed in these career paths. Their web site is http://www.swe.org/ . (Thanks to Krystal for the information on SWE)

For more information on websites and organizations working towards empowering women in the Science and Technology fields, see Women-Related Web Sites in Science/Technology.