Employment Arrangements, Need Profiles, and Gender
Thomas W. Ferratt (University of Dayton, USA), Harvey G. Enns (University of Dayton, USA) and Jayesh Prasad (University of Dayton, USA)
Copyright: © 2006
Information technology has become increasingly pervasive in the products and services of organizations. Similarly, IT has become increasingly essential in supporting work at all organizational levels. These forces have increased the demand for the work that IT professionals perform. At the same time, managerial initiatives for increased efficiencies have led to increases in outsourcing and downsizing. As a result, the IT human-resource (HR) strategies that organizations employ vary (Agarwal & Ferratt, 1999). Different IT HR strategies are implemented through differences in HR practices, such as differences in employment guarantees, career development, and the flexibility allowed in scheduling one’s work. These differences in IT HR practices result in different employment arrangements for IT professionals. According to fit theory and research (Kristof, 1996; Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005), the fit between what the organization supplies and what the IT professional needs influences attitudinal and behavioral outcomes, such as satisfaction, turnover, performance, and helping behavior. If an organization has a common set of IT HR practices for all IT professionals, greater fit and the organizationally desired outcomes associated with greater fit will most likely occur if all IT professionals have a common set of needs. A question that arises is whether all IT professionals do have a common set of needs. If subgroups of IT professionals have different needs but an organization has a common set of IT HR practices for all IT professionals, that organization may not appeal to a valuable pool of potential employees. Recent analysis of the composition of the U.S. workforce shows that women are underrepresented in IT (Information Technology Association of America [ITAA], 2003, 2005a, 2005b). The percentage of women in the professional and management ranks of the IT workforce was 24.9% in 2004; the percentage in all IT workforce positions, including lower level administrative job categories, was 32.4%. In comparison, the percentage of women in the overall workforce was 46.5%. One potential explanation for this underrepresentation could be that organizations do not provide employment arrangements that address the needs of women as well as they do the needs of men and, thus, are unable to attract and retain IT professionals equally from these gender subgroups.