Career Management Concerns for Women in IT

Career Management Concerns for Women in IT

David M. Kaplan (Saint Louis University, USA) and Fred Niederman (Saint Louis University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch014
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Abstract

Frequently researchers cite the perceived masculinity (Ahuja, 2002; Muryn Kaminiski & Reilly, 2004; Trauth, 2002) of information technology (IT) jobs as one of the main reasons that more women are not in the field. Such a diagnosis, while helpful for strategizing plans to attract new women into IT, does not address the needs and concerns of women currently in IT positions. These women are already aware of the degree to which IT is a masculine profession. They have entered the field in spite of this because they have a natural affinity for the work, found a niche that is comfortable for them, or developed a coping strategy. While these women may have overcome important barriers to enter the profession, entry does not constitute the last hurdle that they will have to face in their careers. Certainly, the path for women intending to make a career in IT is an uphill one. One only needs to look at the disparity between the numbers of men and women working in the industry (United States Census Bureau, 2005) to sense that the playing field is not level. While acknowledging that women are overtly discriminated, it’s important for women to become aware of the unintentional ways they are discriminated against, how they may inadvertently contribute to this, and possible methods for overcoming it. Specifically, the authors will discuss how inadequate social networks, skill obsolescence, and limited vertical/internal job mobility present challenges to career success. While not unique, these challenges are more tangible and pervasive barriers to career success for women in IT. Also, while other scholars have identified similar career hurdles for women in IT (Ahuja, 2002), the current discussion differs from past scholarship in several key areas. First, these issues are discussed with an emphasis for women once they have started their careers and not their initial career choice. Second, each section includes a vignette that provides an example and context explaining the underlying processes. Third, the paper goes beyond diagnosis and explanation to offering specific strategies for overcoming these barriers.

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