How to Change IT's Image
Both male and female executives need to stop bemoaning the lack of women in IT and start changing the profession's outdated image. We can begin to update this image by promoting a business technology emphasis in the workplace. CIOs and senior managers can help techcentric staffers to learn more about business, enabling them to work more effectively with the other departments in their firms, and identify the career paths that may zigzag to and from the business areas of their firms.
Find new sources of entry-level talent. Instead of worrying about the low levels of computer science enrolment, it would be a better idea to get the word out to women in undergraduate business schools and universities with business programs. There, we can find young women who are sharp, articulate speakers and writers with the ability to learn about business and technology. Recruit them as interns, and show them from the inside where an enterprise IT career can take them. Assign them mentors who will shepherd them.
Market business technology careers to young women. As part of the process of promoting the field, recruiting firms and HR departments should profile women business technology executives who can inspire young women to choose a career that is as much or more about business as it is about technology. The material, which should be distributed to high school girls and first year university students, can highlight the exciting work experiences these women have had.
I have been thinking about what else (besides a brochure and video interview with an IT exec) to put in the kit for high school guidance counsellors to help a young girl get excited about the world of business, business processes and change. Perhaps we can give them an information-based problem to solve like organizing and recruiting for a new hobby group among registered online club members. That would help our daughters see themselves working in business technology. What do you think would help?
Laurie Orlov does research and consulting on business and technology strategy. She is a former vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research
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