Why High Tech Needs Women Executives

Why should anyone care if there are women in executive-level positions in technology? Is there real value in gender diversity? I've been investigating and discussing this topic for a number of years, and the answer is yes, it does matter.

By Joyce Brocaglia
Tue, September 08, 2009

Network World — Joyce Brocaglia, CEO of information security and IT audit recruiting firm Alta Associates, is also founder of the Executive Women's Forum, a membership community that holds conferences for women in the information security, risk management and privacy fields. Here, Brocaglia speaks about the EWF and gender diversity at the executive level in technology.

Slideshow: Information Technology: It's Not Just a Guy Thing

Why should anyone care if there are women in executive-level positions in technology? Is there real value in gender diversity? 

I've been investigating and discussing this topic for a number of years, and the answer is yes, it does matter. Companies are beginning to recognize that gender balancing is good for business and the corporations that are taking actions to identify, promote and retain high-potential women are reaping the benefits.

Women in IT: Success and struggle 

As the CEO of Alta Associates, a recruiting firm specializing in IT risk management and information security, I can attest to the fact that a majority of my clients have identified this need and are wrestling with the challenge of retaining women in executive positions in technology.

Why are corporations interested in having women at the top? A 2007 report by Catalyst revealed that Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the board gained a significant performance advantage over those with the fewest. In a similar study by McKinsey, it was reported that those companies with the most women on their senior teams showed superior growth in equity, operational results and share price.

We know that the issue of women as leaders is no longer simply about equal employment opportunity or fairness. It's a matter of smart business. At the same time, the factors impacting upon women and leadership have never been more complex, ranging from a host of socio-cultural factors to the economic inequities that still exist, to the fundamental questions that many women ask themselves in the middle of the night, suc as: "Do I really even want a role at the top of my organization?"

In 2003, I responded to the outcry from executive women in the fields of information security, privacy and risk management who were wrestling with such issues and founded the Executive Women's Forum. The evolution of the EWF community is a grassroots effort. What began as one-on-one conversations about gathering like-minded women together to build a trusted network has evolved into a community of more than 500 of the most influential women in their fields who have attended national conferences, regional meetings and interact through an online community.

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