The world’s population is a near-even split between men and women; however, usage statistics for certain categories of mobile applications and technologies show that women vastly outnumber men. Women’s spending also accounts for a large percentage of consumer dollars. Yet, there are not many women in IT. Why do organizations that constantly seek new markets and new customers neglect the large portions of their markets that women comprise — both as customers and as potential employees?
The Way It Used to Be
Traditionally, men have dominated IT and the sciences associated with information technology, but that traditional view, created to raise the profile of what was perceived as merely “women’s work,” is erroneous. Still, this work — as performed by women — helped UK code breakers decode German ciphers during World War II (saving the lives of countless service personnel, and contributing in no small way to the end of the war). Women’s contributions to math and data helped NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory put a rocket on the moon. Given these facts from recent history, it is surprising that the percentage of female graduates in computer-related fields is down nearly 50 percent from two decades ago, indicating a clear shortage of women in IT.
MBA graduates who assess global markets for strategic growth should keep women top of mind. More and more, women are determining household purchases, and they are more likely to engage with technology in a casual and social manner — in ways that create brand loyalty and raise visibility. Organizations stand to lose an enormous amount of market share if they don’t adjust their messaging and focus to tap the powerful influence that women can have on a product or brand.
And this messaging and focus isn’t just on the outward-facing side of an organization. It must be reflected internally, too. If a company’s strategic plan counts women as customers with purchasing power, shouldn’t the company’s operations, including IT staffing, reflect the same vision?
Even though the number of women in IT has increased over the last few years, it is still down almost ten percent from nearly twenty years ago, which was still less than full parity within the workforce. Nearly three-quarters of the women in IT report loving their jobs, and more than half the women in IT leave the field at a point in their careers when they are about to have the most impact on the organization’s trajectory.
Studies of successful US-based companies have shown that increasing diversity in the workplace — throughout the organization — leads to increased revenue, a growth in the number of customers, and an increase in market share. So why are there fewer women in IT than men, when there is no discernible business reason to maintain this disparity?
Foundations and schools are creating opportunities for women-only programs, and graduates from these programs and other online MBA programs are finding employment with forward-looking companies. Teams composed of both men and women have demonstrated a better ability to coordinate, problem-solve, and craft more creative and experimental solutions to problems facing their organizations. In fact, teams with more women than men have demonstrated higher levels of collective intelligence. Recent analysis of venture-backed startups has revealed that successful organizations have twice as many women in leadership roles as those that fail to bring their product to market.
While business intelligence analysts with a degree from an online MBA program should be open to new ideas and new ways of approaching problems, they should also be aware of an organization’s historical bias and lack of vision. Women in IT highlight the acceptance of women throughout the organization.
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