Regarding the editorial of July 13 (“Tasteless comments aren’t helping matters” ComputerWorld Canada, page 8), I realize that the thrust of this editorial was comments against bad advertising and I couldn’t agree more. However, I’d like to comment on the first part dealing with the “male-dominated industry.”
In explaining why women would rather be undertakers than work in IT, Gail Balfour writes that “Some of the reasons given by women include the perception that tech careers are boring, isolated and uncool and may lead to anti-social behaviour and unexciting lives.” She presents this as something that is unfortunate.
Yes, Gail, it is unfortunate – unfortunately true. Women have much better perception of the current state of IT work than you think. To most people, these are not myths to be dispelled. IT is mostly boring and isolated which make it most definitely uncool.
Those within the IT ranks, of course, don’t see this and therefore don’t see any need to change the outside world’s perception. They’d rather go on leading unexciting lives (as seen by those around them). But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? An undertaker might also think that her career is exciting and very cool as do most accountants, actuaries, engineers and ditch-diggers. In fact, doesn’t everyone who loves their job wonder why in the world wouldn’t everyone want to do it? There is no more rewarding job than the one you like to do, in any field.
Let’s not concentrate on hitting some sort of artificial target for percentage of women vs. men within a career path (which could lead to so-called reverse discrimination). Rather, efforts should be increased on getting to high school students (both genders) who show a tendency toward the often-meticulous demands of IT work and actually love it. Engineers (although also obsessed with trying to get women into engineering) have been doing this for several years and who knows how many students have had their career horizons widened in this manner?
For those of us (yes, I am an engineer working as an IT consultant) in the industry, let’s try and change attitudes by actually becoming more social and not try to push our geekiness onto other people. Now, I have to go and play some pickup with my friends. Yes, they regard me as a computer geek and don’t think anything I do with work is cool, but at least I haven’t digressed into anti-social behaviour.