by Meridith Levinson

The State of Women Technology Leaders

Jun 07, 20073 mins

Yesterday, research and recruiting firm Sheila Greco Associates released its 2006-2007 Women in Technology Study. Sheila Greco Associates has been surveying the state of female IT leaders since 1998. Some of this year’s research results were disappointing while others showed promise.

The bad news:

  1. The number of female IT leaders is on the decline. The number of women in IT leadership positions (CIO, CTO, VP, etc.) has steadily declined from a high of 15 percent in 2004 to 12 percent in 2007.
  2. The number of female IT leaders with the CIO title has grown marginally. In 2000, seven percent of respondents held the CIO title. Today, just nine percent do.
  3. Female IT leaders feel alone. Over 50 percent of the women interviewed for this study reported feeling isolated. Consequently, they seek role models, mentors and opportunities to network with other professional women. It’s no wonder they feel isolated when there’s so few of them!
  4. Women in IT still feel they have to prove themselves. Survey respondents said they have to work harder and longer than their male counterparts to climb the corporate ladder and prove they’re worthy of promotion. I find this totally depressing. I wonder if a woman’s insecurity makes her feel this way, or if it’s genuine gender discrimination, or both? What do you think? What have you experienced?
  5. Lower- and mid-level female IT professionals are reluctant to engage in salary negotiations. This is nuts. C’mon ladies, as Cybill Shepherd and Scarlett Johannson say in L’Oreal ads, you’re worth it! has a number of articles on salary negotiation if you’re looking for tips and advice.

The good news:

  1. Over 70 percent of female IT leaders have advanced degrees. The fact that so many female IT execs have degrees beyond their bachelors shows the value women place on education as a means to getting ahead. It might also demonstrate point four, above, that women have to do more (e.g. pursue those masters’ and PhDs) in order to get promoted.
  2. Women IT leaders have diverse IT staffs. Their staffs tend to be more diverse than their male counterparts’ teams.
  3. They increasingly report to the CEO. 90 percent of women technology leaders interviewed report directly to the CEO. Approximately 12 percent report to other officers (CFO, COO.)
  4. They’re getting equal pay for equal work. Women IT leaders earn as much as male IT leaders, with the average CIO base salary at small and midsize companies ranging between $150K and $200K and the average CIO base salary at large companies ranging from $450K to over $1.5 million.
  5. Women IT leaders are loyal. They tend to stick with their employers for a long time. According to the survey, the average female technology leader has been with her current company for over nine years. That seems to suggest that women have more opportunities to move up the corporate ladder if they stick with an employer, rather than trying to move up by jumping around.

I’m surprised that the percent of female IT execs has

declined. Anyone have any idea why that may be? I can’t say that I’m too worried about that stat. I honestly think that the number of female IT execs will increase in the competitive market for IT executive talent. I think today’s labor market presents an incredible opportunity for women in IT. 

What do you think about these survey results? Please share your thoughts with me.