Bridging the gender divide

What percentage of CIOs in IT are women?


Recently we hosted the CIO Focus series on network infrastructure in three cities in India -- Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi. Nearly 150 IT leaders attended the three events, but just three were women. Of them, two attended the Bangalore event and the other showed up in Delhi. No woman was present at the Mumbai event.

There is little research about gender issues in the Indian IT industry. But the US has ample data. Last month, Sheila Greco Associates, a staffing and research firm based in Amsterdam, New York, released the results of its survey on women in IT. Here are some of its findings:

  • The number of female IT leaders with the CIO title has risen.
  • But the number of overall female IT leaders, including CTOs, has fallen.
  • Female IT leaders feel lonely.
  • They feel pressured to prove themselves at works.
  • Women IT leaders have higher diversity in their staff.
  • Nearly 90% of the women CIOs report to the CEO.
  • Women are on par with men when it comes to salaries.

I have deliberately left out a variety of numbers listed in the survey because they may be of little relevance to India. However, I will share one statistic: the number of women CIOs in the US is about 9%.

How does this compare with our experience in India?

Going by the appearances at our CIO Focus events, the number of women CIOs is probably less than 2%. Also interesting is the fact that we have featured just two women CIOs on our cover in 20 months.

What does all this suggest about women in the Indian IT industry? What does it mean for women in IT? And what is its significance for diversity in the workplace?

Obviously, Indian women have a lot of catching up to do. But it is no different from the case in other walks of life. The number of women engineers has grown manifold in recent years, and market forces - higher salaries and better growth opportunities - have led many to join the IT industry. Besides, women in IT may enjoy a huge advantage over other professionals because they work to global standards and in conditions closest to a meritocracy.

Still, there are questions. Do women IT leaders need to do more? Or should their male counterparts do more? Do we need a catalyst to bridge the gender divide?

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