The culture of IT has long been one that embraces diverse cultures, but one segment of the global population is decidedly still in the minority: women. In a recent CIO survey by the Harvey Nash Group, only 9% of the CIOs surveyed were women, down from 11% in last year's survey. Where have all the females gone? More importantly, is this brain drain having a negative impact on the female voice in the IT organization?
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Carolyn Leighton, founder and CEO of Women in Technology International, or WITI, makes it her priority to bring together the top women in the technology industry. Her professional group serves to inspire and mentor a global network of like-minded women who sometimes feel left out in the male-influenced culture of IT. SearchCIO-MidMarket.com Editorial Assistant Miki Onwudinjo recently had an opportunity to speak with Leighton about women and the culture of IT. Listen to the full podcast to hear Leighton's stance on women in IT and the missing female voice.
Do you think IT and STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] occupations need a female perspective?
Carolyn Leighton: I think everything needs a female perspective, because we do as women look at things differently. And it's like all the companies that have all men on their board of directors -- they're leaving out half of their market and target population, both in terms of employees and in terms of people -- vendors, in terms of business partners. It's absurd to have any group in today's world that is singularly men or women.
What is the secret to making yourself heard in a male-dominated occupation?
WITI Founder Carolyn Leighton discusses where women fit into the culture of IT
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Leighton: We all know that there are still lots of companies like Google and Apple that are great in terms of what they do but they're really tough environments for the women who work there. So, women we find in our conferences every year -- who work in technology companies especially, but then, [in] lots of companies -- are asking us that question all the time.
My experience is that you are most likely to be heard in any situation when you frame what you're thinking about before you discuss what you're going to discuss. You share why you're going to ask the question or discuss a certain point. My reference point for that is to read The Art of Negotiating by [Gerard] Nierenberg.
For more of Leighton's view on how women fit into the culture of IT, listen to the full podcast.
Miki Onwudinjo is an editorial assistant at TechTarget and a fourth-year journalism student at Northeastern University in Boston. Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor. For midmarket IT news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ciomidmarket.