Information Technology And Women

For women in the information technolgy industry, greater effort needs to continue to even the already staggeringly biased ratio.

In an IT department of 20 people how many are female? Experience has shown me that a figure of 1 or 2 is being very generous. That makes 5-10% female and 90-95% male. Lower level technical support might sport a better ratio for females, but the more advanced and thus lucrative jobs are predominantly men.

A college graduate can earn salaries ranging from the mid 20,000's for helpdesk up to 6 or 7 figures for IT professionals and managers. High schoolers have similar opportunities and will only be limited if some jobs require a degree. Higher skills lead to higher end salaries. So why are girls and young women missing this great opportunity to be involved in a lucrative area of business?

It starts when we are young, girls are given an Easy Bake Oven to learn to cook, Barbie's to learn about fashion and the importance of appearance, and baby dolls to nurture and "raise." They then go off to school and are less likely to be called on in class (especially math and science classes). They get to high school and by this point doubt their math/science skills and tend to take the minimum classes required. The importance of appearances, popularity and "marrying a good wealthy man" are reinforced more strongly than professional success throughout adolescents through peer and parent pressures. The IT field in particular is contrary to what they are taught because it is thought of as "nerdy."

Although the bias against girls may diminish at the college level, by this point many girls have already developed their avoidance of technical topics and courses. Thus once at college there is no reason to take more than the required math/science classes...focusing more on social sciences, foreign languages, or art. This of course is not true of all girls, but is very common. So what do we do? Parents don't be so insistent that your daughters follow the "traditional" path to domesticity, let them explore the potential of their own minds. There are no limits to what girls and women can do, no limits except the ones we place on ourselves. Girls, do what you enjoy and realize that you deserve a high tech and high paying jobs as much as anyone!

Well that's nice, you say, but what can I do?? First of all, a major in computer science is very likely to double an average college graduate's salary. But you don't have to have a computer science major to make it in Information Technology and still make good money. Most high schools and colleges have some sort of IT courses and many have programs that get you certified, such as an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) or a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) both of which are in extremely high demand. If your high school or college does not have a program, it wouldn't hurt to suggest that they start (that is how it began in the first place). This can get your foot well in to the door straight out of highschool and can get you into the mid 20K's to low 40K's. Don't blow off the benefits of college since with a college degree you will be a hot commodity and this salary range is even higher. Most community colleges offer current certification and technical courses for a reasonable fee (when you consider the high salary you will earn). And of course, never underestimate the power of surfing the web where much more information is available at the click of a button.

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