Making the Climb

Women in IT team up to succeed

Women in IT team up to succeed
Illustration by Laura Smith

The IT field attracts some of the best and brightest men and women. While women have achieved much success in IT during the past 20 years, it’s been an uphill climb. The path remains steep and full of challenges, such as creating career opportunities, work/life balance and getting the training needed to advance.

A quick look at employment statistics shows women remain a growing, but small, portion of the IT workforce. Women composed just 25.6 percent of computer and mathematical professionals in 2007, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In IT, the highest percentage of women—35.9 percent—was found in database-administrator roles. Women made up about a quarter of computer programmers, software engineers, and network systems and data-communications analysts.

Women were 46.4 percent of the entire U.S. work-force in 2007. Globally, the number was 39 percent, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Numbers show that women are interested in participating in IT, but don’t reflect their ambitions or reveal what’s needed to make it happen. However, several organizations understand those dreams and are helping to turn them into real-life achievements.

Women in Technology International (WITI), Women in Channels (WiC) and the Super Women’s Groups at IBM strive to help women work smarter, build networks and make a difference in the IT industry. WITI and WiC are open to men as well as women. Men make up 6 percent of WITI’s 200,000 members. WiC has 158 members, all female.

Carolyn Leighton

Dee Dee Lear

Sandy Carter

"Someone who understands the business of the company and is committed to using her skills to make real contributions ... will make it through any recession." -Carolyn Leighton, WITI

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at

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