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Where's the glass ceiling?

Where's the glass ceiling?

Running enterprise IT is definitely not the career path of choice for most women

Zero point one per cent. That's about the number of women out of the pool of CIOs in India. Given that a tad over 15 per cent of engineering graduates are women, why do their numbers thin out so massively by the time they are ready to run IT in an enterprise? Why is it that tracking down a woman CIO is tougher than finding water in Rajasthan?

There are many factors that one can point to. There's our subcontinental society for one, which runs the gamut of the modern to the medieval with seemingly little in the way of contradiction. So, 31 per cent of the women with an engineering degree simply do not work. Of those that do, a third teach.

This leads to what a whole bunch of CIOs refer to as 'supply chain issues' - there just aren't enough women who choose to join IT departments. Add pressure from their families to this equation and many capable women IT executives end up giving up on career.

A CIO I spoke with recently, ranted about the 'patriarchy' that created glass ceilings in organizations. However, most IT leaders that I have asked specifically about this are convinced that the women in their teams are as good, if not better than their male counterparts.

But, let's try another tack. Research shows that of the women engineers who do go the distance, 20 per cent do get to mid-management and 3.9 per cent to the upper echelons. They just don't choose the IT department to build a career in. Why do they prefer marketing, HR and even finance?

Is the lack of women in the IT ecosystem got something to do with the enterprise IT not being attractive enough? A pharma CIO told me that one of the biggest turn-offs was the alpha geek attitude that went with territory 10 to 15 years ago. He, however, believed that this had undergone change as had the core CIO attributes from technology to change agent. He felt that we will begin to see more women CIOs emerge shortly.

That's an interesting thought - IT's not only about technology. As more organizations begin to view IT as a strategic enabler and not a support function, that might just be the thing to also get in women from general management into the IT war room.

I look forward to that day. Hallelujah.

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