Are women “bailing out” of IT?

Or are they being pushed out, but blamed for it?

A blog post in on Womensenews.org, raises interesting issues.

One woman characterized in the post loved her job in IT while working in the Washington D.C. area. The work environment was diverse, she felt comfortable, productive, respected. Then..

… a move to a company in the Midwest changed that.

“I don’t know if it was the company or the geography, but I could hear and feel the hostility,” she said.

Jones said even if a woman had been a team leader on a project, when it came time to meet with a client, she would be relegated to a secretarial role.

“I could be giving a presentation and if people had questions they would look to the men in the room and never ask it directly of me,” she said.

When she asked her boss how to deal with this sexism, she was advised to, “Play up my femininity. Make sure the men feel like they are smarter than you, then they will feel comfortable,” said Jones.

(I wonder what part of the midwest she moved to? Or, if this was just local variation in corporate culture for the firm she worked for.)

More than half of women in tech jobs leave their position mid-career. They still get about 10K less than men in similar positions. And so on.

This is mostly based on a report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology. The report is here.

What I find interesting, aside from the main issue (which is not surprising) is that the title of the blog post on this supposedly women-oriented site refers to women bailing out, while the situation really seems more like they are being”forced out.” And of course, the first comment mansplains that women get paid less because they are more willing to take the first offer they are given.

(You wish.)

Comments

  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    June 27, 2010

    What I find interesting, aside from the main issue (which is not surprising) is that the title of the blog post on this supposedly women-oriented site refers to women bailing out, while the situation really seems more like they are being”forced out.”

    I left to pursue other interests,
    You bailed from a bad job,
    She was forced out by harassment.

    And of course, the first comment mansplains that women get paid less because they are more willing to take the first offer they are given.

    IIRC the conversation with $DAUGHTER on that point, the original research that pointed at that bit of mansplaining was by female gender sociologists.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    June 27, 2010

    IIRC the comment makes no citations.

    Regarding your first point, I’m talking about the title. You can tell that because I, like, use the word “title” and shit. However, I quickly add: I had a sentence in there that I deleted and did not replaced that specifically noted the possibility that the title of this article was written by some hack editor and not the writer. Just guessing, of course.

  3. #3 D. C. Sessions
    June 27, 2010

    “Bailing out” is a loaded (you decide with what) term for the well-known problem of differential retention in STEM, especially IT-related sectors. The gender differential STEM/IT employment is known to have two basic components: low differential recruitment at the educational end, and low retention in the workplace.

    Both appear to be complex accumulations of several individual factors, not all known and not well quantified. Which means that there won’t be any silver bullets — which should come as no surprise.

    NB: $DAUGHTER was originally researching the differential recruitment issue, decided that the retention issue was more promising, and then got interested in another facet entirely.

  4. #4 Bruce
    June 27, 2010

    More proof that women are smarter than men.
    Lots of very smart people are laid off.

  5. #5 Jenny
    June 28, 2010

    Hi Greg, thanks for sharing this piece. Interesting that you picked up on the (potentially gendered) difference between women “bailing out” and being “forced out.” Makes you wonder, do men bail out or feel forced out for different reasons?

    One thing we know is that the strategies that help to recruit and retain women actually benefit men, too: Making workplace flexibility policies formal, for ALL employees, rather than informal; instituting mentoring and clear paths to career advancement; and establishing merit-based performance evaluation procedures. Maybe women are just the canary in the coal mine.

  6. #6 Sam
    July 31, 2010

    “Or are they being pushed out, but blamed for it?”

    It used to be normal for a woman to be in I.T. years ago. They have been pushed out.