Sense and Sensibility

Given that IT has always been heavily male-dominated, the topic of gender balance in the workplace surely cannot be ignored by the UK's CIO community. Especially at a time when economic recovery is starting to get under way and skills shortages are beginning to reappear.

We started this series of opinion pieces two years ago with an article on the same subject headed 'Where have all the women gone?' The article noted that the number of women coming forward for IT jobs seemed to be in decline. It offered reasons why this situation was creating real problems for CIOs, and suggested some possible solutions.

Today I am happy to note that things have changed for the better and are again moving in right direction, albeit not enough and too slowly.

One factor that has helped has been much prodding and campaigning by think-tanks and pressure groups. Business in the Community (BiTC) with its Opportunity Now gender campaign and Women in Technology have done excellent work. And closer to home, my own company's Women's Business Network has expanded from occasional informal get-togethers when it was founded a few years ago to a programme of year-round events with distinguished guest speakers, forums and its own dedicated website.

But the main factor is surely self-interest on the part of businesses and their CIOs, and the solid business benefits of maximising their pipeline of upcoming talent. After all, why cut yourself off from half the nation's talent pool? There is also the important question of balanced teams with breadth of perspective. Mixed gender teams bring a greater range of outlooks and insights than all-male ones, and that can be especially important when your users and customers, direct or indirect, also comprise women as well as men.

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