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Recently my wife was at an the Connecting Women in Technology event which is born from an idea by my friend, Eileen Brown that she talks about in the this post and here.

Connecting Women is about colleagues supporting each other in an industry where Women are a minority.

Being anatomically different doesn't mean men can't be involved or equally supportive as events like this are ultimately about achieving balance.

The main problems are ...

  • Attract more women into the industry
  • Combat prejudice, bullying, intimidation, harassment and abused
  • Insure equality in promotion prospects
  • Finding the balance between being a good parent and a responsible business person
  • Perception, is the problem real?

My personal belief is that these are infact business problems and not ones that groups like Connecting Women can solve on their own? Yes, obviously, what groups like Connected Women do is keep these problems on the agenda.

In my business which isn't IT, women are all over the management structure and have been for sometime, however none have had the top job, CEO, yet but the difference being these days that there is nothing stopping them. The reason being that the idea of a female boss isn't a precedent. Infact, I doubt many right thinking people would have even thought about it apart from the old-boys and their network which we all find hard to break, both women and men.

So what about IT? IT is a male dominated profession and the stereotype of 'women not being as technical as men' does indeed cast a shadow but again this is far from reality specially in uber technical areas such as coding. I think we can all recount a story where we know women kicking technical butt just as hard as any man.

I think the real main problem and the route cause is the acceptance of differences.

Women have babies, the physiology is different between sexes, many women actively express their feminity and have different interests and goals. So what's wrong with that? Nothing, nothing at all, this is just an example of ordinary life going on. But many people (women and men) don't like differences it reminds them of change that for some is a hurdle to get their heads around which is uncomfortable until they've done the mental processing.

So how do you change peoples attitudes? Challenge them to 'chose their attitude'. Good examples just how to do that can be found in the Fish! Philosophy. It's not a cheesy fad, it really is a life choice every day when you get out of bed. It's not a case of telling people what to think, that's not going to happen, it's educating people that they actually have a choice about their attitude. After all the biggest barriers are usually just perceptions. Attitude effects belief which is the corner-stone of any culture.

The largest fact and the elephant in the room, is that IT is seen as an unattractive profession to get in to by our youth. The common perception is that it's 'boring' and 'hard', so there is a real need to get our house in order before we can tackle this problem successfully so more connecting women and men is needed.

Posted on Monday, March 10, 2008 11:15 AM Main | Back to top

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