Female CIOs are significantly more positive about analytics and growing IT budgets than male CIOs, but more negative about risk, a Gartner report said.
According to Gartner's CIO Agenda 2015, female CIOs are more positive about predictive analytics than male CIOs (32 per cent versus 22 per cent) as well as social and multimedia information (19 per cent versus 3 per cent).
Female CIOs are expecting significantly greater budget increases in 2015 compared to their male counterparts (2.4 per cent versus 0.8 per cent), the report also found.
Female respondents were more risk-aware than male CIOs, being more likely to be pessimistic about risk approaches not keeping up with increasing digital risks, though this percentage was high for both men and women (76 per cent versus 67 per cent).
Gartner also found female CIOs are more likely to adapt the metrics they use to prioritise and assess performance and value to their reporting structure, while male CIOs were not.
Of the total respondents, women represented 13.7 per cent (337 women and 2473 men) – a figure that has remained static for the past 11 years, the report noted.
“While there are more similarities than differences in the responses of men and women, there are also a number of notable differences indicating that female CIOs show more adaptability in their leadership roles than their male counterparts,” the report said.
“Organisations planning to take full advantage of digital must address leadership related to: information and technology, value, and people and culture.
“This gender perspective of the data encourages readers to consider what might happen if we also flipped IT leadership by gender in the new digital world."
The report recommends that CIOs and those who hire and work with them aim to take advantage of gender and diversity to build a digital leadership team.
This includes building a gender-diverse team to deal with digital risks, and being aware that both gender and reporting structure can be factors in the data a CIO uses to prioritise investments and in data analytics.
“The key message from the report is around there being more similarities than differences between male and female CIOs,” says Poh-Ling Lee, Gartner analyst and report author.
"It shows CIOs and the executives that hire them and work with them that they can be confident gender makes little difference in most areas in the CIO role, whether it be technology priorities, attitude toward public cloud, mobile, and the desire to lead the digital revolution … people should be encouraged by that.”
A key point not directly mentioned in the report, says Lee, is the need for more diversity in the CIO role, not just from a gender perspective but also inclusive of potential CIOs with a non-IT background.
"Businesses are getting more customer- and citizen-centric and, increasingly, more front office and people-oriented, so I think this represents opportunities for women, and men, who come from a non-IT background to step into the CIO role and lead .
"The whole view of this shortage of skills and female talent hopefully won't be an issue. I feel more optimistic because the changing world of information is based around what people need and want, and leadership roles should therefore come from more diverse backgrounds, and not just the traditional IT role."