Women in IT

March 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm 1 comment

Many people have the misconception that this is a male-dominated world and think males are smarter and better than women. The IT department at ISU is over 90% male-dominated. There are very few women even in general who graduate with an IT-related degree, as well as get a doctorate and become a tenure track professor. But why?

False stereotypes of IT

The IT field is considered to be comprised of a bunch of nerds who stay up all night alone in their room and have no social life. Of course that is not true, but women tend to dislike the stereotype of doing something masculine. People generally assume that computer nerds like video games, junk food, and star trek posters and women don’t generally like that. They also fear that men wouldn’t be attracted to them.

What people don’t realize

The IT field is a heavily growing industry and jobs are significantly less difficult to obtain than an education job. Despite there being few women in the field to begin with, minorities are given a good opportunity when the company is in favor of diversity and inclusion. IT departments don’t just hire men and companies want it to be as balanced as possible.

What can we do to improve this imbalanced ratio?

There are many programs in schools and in the community to inspire women to pursue math and science in school, which can lead you to IT. For example, Millennium Girls at State Farm is a program to inspire middle school aged girls to pursue math, science, or technology by taking the girls through fun activities. Peer pressure can be an issue throughout high school. In order to combat peer pressure towards the time when high school students are deciding what to major in, there are recommendations of having these types of programs at that time in order for people not to be peer pressured out of choosing an IT major. Also, colleges shouldn’t aim “weed out” classes to be skewed towards men, women shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable in labs, and negative stereotype threats should be avoided.

The impact of women in the IT field

There are women CEOs at major IT companies, such as HP, Yahoo, and IBM. Women provide a different type of attitude and sense of creativity to the field. Underrepresented groups do need to play a role in any type of career. Women who defy the general IT stereotype are very likely to get a job because they possess the soft skills (ex talking to people, leadership skills, etc.). Having women allows the work to be more innovative, it prevents groupthink, and better decisions are made.

It actually IS possible to be a successful women in IT

Yes, there are women CEOs and a decently long list of successful women in computing. I could consider myself one of those people because I ignored the stereotypes and actually do consider myself nerdy. I ignored any peer pressure and anyone who tried to make fun of me. I also didn’t care that there were many males in the major because I tend to gravitate towards males and a lot of my friends are male as well. Right now, after almost 4 years of being an IT student, I have high grades, am the AITP club president, and earned all of that from hard work and passion. Don’t just pick up an IT major because someone tells you do. Do it because you love it and following what your heart tells you to do!

If you have any interest in pursuing an IT degree (or are an IT major already), you can check out the AITP club on March 19 at 8:00pm in Stevenson401. If you are interested in pursuing a career or internship in IT, you can check out the career mixer on March 26 from 8-11pm in the Bone Prairie South room. If you’re in Math120, don’t forget the Regginet quiz!


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. philprof  |  March 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    P.S.: MAT 120 counts toward 5 of the 6 IT-related majors offered at Illinois State, and toward associated minors. If you find MAT120 very mysterious, despite your best efforts, IT is probably not for you. But most IT careers do not require one to utilize a lot of advanced mathematics.


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