Pay and recognition

Not only is today Internation Women’s Day, it’s also the fifth birthday of womenintechnology.co.uk, so we asked the women in our network what their ‘birthday wish’ for women in IT would be. The top answers were: a closing of the gender pay gap, more respect and more support in the workplace from both employers and fellow employees.

One respondent said “[I wish] that people would assume [women in IT] have interesting, innovative and strategic thinking without them having to work so hard to constantly establish credibility”. Another said she wished that women would “support each other rather than compete”.

The needs of working mums were also addressed with calls for women to be openly recognised as doing a great job even if in part-time work, as well as for more workplace benefits options surrounding things like childcare. Other wishes were for more role models for women in IT, more women in senior IT positions and for women to trust their own skills and abilities more.

As one respondent pointed out, it has been 40 years since the Equal Pay Act and although we’ve made progress we still haven’t closed the gender pay gap, so that’s definitely a big hope for the future. These results show that we still have a way to go until women are on a par with men in the IT world but what’s great is that these ‘wishes’ are realistic ones that are within our reach. Since womenintechnology was established five years ago women have made great advances in the sector. We’re looking forward to the next five years and what will happen next!

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The office playground

Remember those school bullies in the playground? Well, it seems that they’re not just confined to the school gates. They’re rife in the workplace too.

As reported in the Times the Andrea Adams Trust, a charity that fights against bullying at work, is receiving more phone calls for help with the issue. And not just a few more – the number is estimated to have doubled since the recession hit. The charity says that many of the callers don’t want to raise the issue at work as they’re scared that they could lose their job, which no-one wants to do given the current climate.

Although the majority of bullies are men, according to a recent article in the New York Times, female bullies target other women 70% of the time.

I can’t say that I am really surprised by this. The female race can be a bitchy one at times and instead of adopting some female solidarity, this is often directed at other women. And with the male dominated business culture, there are some women that adopt an aggressive manner to get to the top. But this brings up a different point, as highlighted by Sharon Mavin, associate dean at Newcastle Business School: “Is it bullying or is it just a woman not meeting another woman’s expectations? Women react to men bosses as bosses but react to women bosses as women.”

Our own research in conjunction with Microsoft brought up some interesting and polarised views from women in the IT sector:

  • “Assertiveness in a woman is too often regarded as hostility or aggression, so it is a fine line.”
  • “Maybe because my team manager is a woman, who has had children, she is sympathetic of the need to balance work with family.”
  • “The rest of the people on the staff have to put up with [mothers] being focused on children, not their work.”
  • “As an ambitious single woman in a technology company, I sometimes get frustrated by the extent to which some working mothers are carried by their peers”

With many women struggling with making it to the top, especially whilst juggling family commitments, it’s essential that women support each other in the workplace. Handling office politics and working in male teams can be challenging – these are just some of the issues we’re addressing at W-Tech next week.