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back to article Why women won't apply for IT jobs

Women won't apply for IT jobs unless they are certain they meet every single criterion for the gig, according to John Ridge, Executive Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation Trust Fund (ACSF). Ridge and the ACSF run a national Work Integrated Learning scholarship scheme for IT workers in Australia and have, over …

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seen job adds lately ?

most want 5 different specialties in one body. Puts anyone off.

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Anonymous Coward

It probably that women are more aspirational in life that they steer clear of IT careers.

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

I agree. In the UK it seesm to be a job ad problem rather than a gender problem. I've never yet applied for a job where I had a perfect fit with the requested skillset, the closest I've ever come to full correlation is 40%, but I've been able to demonstrate enough ability in related skills to show that I'll pick up what's needed. While I am sure that there are cycnical job ads written to perfectly match the only (internal) candidate that can fill the job to allow a company to prove that they've advertised the job when they know who they want to get it, most of the 'grab bag' sklllsets seem to be assembled from a LEGO® kit of jobspecs that are thrown at HR to make a job with.

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Boffin

Re: Re: seen job adds lately ?

"....most of the 'grab bag' sklllsets seem to be assembled from a LEGO® kit of jobspecs....." My absolute fave example of this was when our HR and their pet agency came up with a spec for a junior admin that asked for three year's experience.....

Some of it I put down to the habit of taking training costs out of opex budgets, which are under pressure, resulting in no-one wanting to spend the money to train new staff, instead wanting to recruit ready-trained staff. When I left my old job I saw the ad that ran for my replacement, and I laughed to see that I had done the job for three years but didn't fully meet the spec they were advertising!

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FAIL

+1

Also, the article author has got it arse over tit. The disconnect between the insane HR departments and the real world of what actually needs doing in an IT operation or project is such that the job requirements bear absolutely no relation to the skills or knowledge required. Maybe women aren't as likely to play along with the HR psychos like the men?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: seen job adds lately ?

"most want 5 different specialties in one body. Puts anyone off."

That might be the intention if its the "we put out a job ad but no-one applied so we need a visa for this person we going to have to bring in from abroad" job ad!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: seen job adds lately ?

Great example here. I worked for a school where I entered a IT apprenticeship scheme and did 4 days work and 1 day college to do the coursework. Completed the course in 9 months and was hired subsequently as a on the bod IT Technican doing all spectrum of work (printer cartridges to basic AD work). Eventually learnt my craft and became the senior systems administrator just below my boss on a reasonable wage (but still well under what I was doing after 3 1/2 years in that role - server building/maintenance, network monitoring, advanced AD, OS admin).

Left just over a year ago. They put an ad out to get a direct replacement but clearly the role I did was at least worth £5k more at a minimum. There was clearly no-one with the whole spectrum where the job ad wanted the superstar for nothing rather than bringing in someone who wanted to promote from an IT Tech position. Lack of understanding on how to shape the role to at least attract some potential. You need at least some carrot on a stick to pull anyone half-decent in.

In the end, no-one replaced me and the junior IT techs on a pitiful wage (very close to minimum wage!) had to take over some of the less crafty work and my manager by the looks of things took on the more complex stuff. God knows how they're managing when I always had an arms length of projects on the go all at once because the school doubled in size but admin staff never doubled in size. I'll keep shrugging my shoulders till the end of time.

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Unhappy

Re: seen job adds lately ?

They've been like that for ages

Especially amusing are the ones that want 2 years+ experience in the latest whizzy bang technology, yet whizzy bang has only been out 3 weeks.....

PS I want more women in manufacturing too...... gets kinda lonely when all you have to talk to is the robot loaders

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Mushroom

Re: seen job adds lately ?

I'll get flamed up the *** for this, but what the hell.

Back in the previous century, when women decided they wanted a more active role in society, they fought nail and tooth for the rights to vote and work outside of home, rebelled against unfair laws that placed men (particularly in the role of husband) above them, and forced their way upwards in society.

But for some reason, when it comes to women in IT, they are always portrayed as defenseless victims of us Evil Men © and our prejudicial ways. "Oh, if only IT pros weren't so sexist", the people who purport to talk in their name whine. Never mind that men aren't exactly free from abuse from managers, clients and the like...

And now I hear that job ads are the problem? WTF?

Dear women, if you really do want a career in IT, and if people like me really do make the industry so women-unfriendly, feel free to push your way through. Who knows, I might not even be so hard to change, if you just give it some heart. But don't expect me to extend the red carpet and ask pretty please with sugar on top for you to come – IT is a ruthless industry, no matter who you are; the weak and fickle need not apply.

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Anonymous Coward

This.

I know someone who got turned down by resourcing for a role on the basis they didn't have any Oracle 10 experience. The decade of experience of Oracle 6 through 9 wasn't relevant apparently.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This.

I'd bet they also wanted 5 years Oracle 10 experience when it had only been released a couple of months before.

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

Our HR has a lovely habit of putting out external job ads stating that the applicant must be competent in using software product "xyz". Where product xyz is a bespoke, internally developed system which the outside world has very little chance of even knowing exists!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: seen job adds lately ?

Especially in Australia, those ads a an end-run around the visa system.

1. Advertise job requiring an unlikely mix of skills, more skills than can be reasonably expected, and/or for an income level nobody would apply at.

2. Wait.

3. Nobody suitable applies, by design, so inform the immigration department that you need to bring in some guys from India with these skills that you cannot seem to source locally.

4. In theory make larger profits because you just totally undercut the local market. Your mileage on the success of your imported workers may vary.

You only need to look at some of the roles on Seek that are advertising for a Senior developer with 8+ years experience and 3+ year of enterprise usage of WPF, WCF, multi-threading, some C++ and the target salary is $75k. These people are scum.

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

"Dear women, if you really do want a career in IT, and if people like me really do make the industry so women-unfriendly, feel free to push your way through ... IT is a ruthless industry, no matter who you are; the weak and fickle need not apply."

It is better to choose people on the basis of their technical ability than their ability to deal with aggressive people because their technical ability is ultimately what you want from them. If you find that the environment makes something unrelated to technical ability a factor - e.g. ability to put up with prejudice, then better to change the environment so that it is no longer a factor. Do you really think it is efficient to filter out technically gifted applicants because they don't want to put up with sexual inequality or prejudice?

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

> "IT is a ruthless industry, no matter who you are; the weak and fickle need not apply"

IT is sitting in a chair in front of a keyboard; it's not the SAS.

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

not only a UK issue over in the states I love the entry level adds(the greater majority where I live) that require 5 years exp and over $1000 in certs...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This.

>>I know someone who got turned down by resourcing for a role on the basis they didn't have any Oracle 10 experience. The decade of experience of Oracle 6 through 9 wasn't relevant apparently.

Not really relevant to the article, but Oracle have a great certification scheme, experience is wonderful, but the OCP certification is an outward sign that you know what you're doing (and have a broad knowlege of the product), once you're certified on a specific version, version upgrade exams are about £100, which is a pittance compared to £100k contracts £50k permie - or go for Master if you really know Oracle, I know loads of Oracle DBA's who have done it for years but don't know the product, because all they do is the occasional install, move tables around and add space all day.

Seriously, there are significant differences between the oracle versions, how does an employer know your skills are up to date, broad and relevant unless you can prove it? You might consider the Oracle exams irrelvant or trivial, but what does an employer think? two CV's turn up, identical apart from one with 10g OCP certification one without, who would you employ? make it more complex, one with 5 years experience and 10g certification, one with 10 years experience but no qualifications? what if HR is shortlisting CV's, no 10g, no shortlist, if the job requires 10g for the sake of a few hours of exams, do the exams!

I was offered a permie job, starting at £48k + bens because I had OCP certification, straight into a senior role, the guy who offered it to me was an ex DBA (not some HR beancounter), I didn't take it because I didn't want to add space and resize tablespaces all day.

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

It is better to choose people on the basis of their technical ability than their ability to deal with aggressive people because their technical ability is ultimately what you want from them.

Agreed. However, having to put up with unpleasant work conditions, unreasonable people, overblown position requirements etc. is a recurrent problem for most IT workers. Why it's such a disaster only when women are involved? It's not that we don't all get our own share of crap – and we don't give up and blame it for failure.

If you find that the environment makes something unrelated to technical ability a factor - e.g. ability to put up with prejudice, then better to change the environment so that it is no longer a factor.

I'd love to, but I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future – not for IT, and not for any field of human activity. Technically talented people still have to cope with stressful and unreasonable situations if they want to build a career, be it in IT or elsewhere.

Do you really think it is efficient to filter out technically gifted applicants because they don't want to put up with sexual inequality or prejudice?

No, I don't. Actually I'm asking for the opposite: instead of whining at the sidelines, how about enduring through and promote change from within? Landing my first IT job wasn't easy either, regardless of prejudice. I'd love it if we could work only with agreeable people, but I still want to work in IT even if that's not the case.

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

IT is sitting in a chair in front of a keyboard; it's not the SAS.

Bit of hyperbole, sorry if I sounded too literal. Still, as office jobs go, I doubt there's seldom anything more demanding.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This.

"Have you got S.Q.L. experience? It doesn't say on your cv anywhere."

"Well I wrote an bespoke RDBMS kernel for a trading system, because Oracle wasn't fast or compact enough."

"Yes, I see. Does that mean you've done S.Q.L or not? Can you just modify your cv and send it in to me."

I swear to god the above conversation happened.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This.

All certification schemes are pointless. They prove the ability to retake certifications, and identify people stupid enough to pay a software company to say they know their product's documentation.

I spend my life fixing problems caused by people who've hired people because they can read a book, (oops, meant pass a certification exam.)

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Linux

Re: seen job adds lately ?

Every job has nonsense. Either you are willing to put up with the nonsense or not. The fact that there is supposed to be unusual nonsense in IT doesn't really matter. You either want to shatter the glass ceiling or you don't. If women self-select against IT in University, then the rest of us can hardly be blamed for lack of balance out in practice.

IT has it's own set of nonsense that has nothing to do with gender bias. It may be that for whatever reason (socially indoctrinated or not) that women just aren't interested in the field.

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Linux

Utter nonsense

Certs are nonsense. They are time consuming and don't really mean much. They do allow you to get familiar with industry jargon but that's about it. If you are interested in a particular feature then you need to ask about a particular feature. Oracle version numbers are less than meaningless. Having been exposed to the latest version doesn't mean squat if your experience is shallow or if it is lacking whatever new shiny shiny that you happen to have a fixation on.

Even beyond tall of that, the quality of the professional in question is the most important thing of all.

This is something that corporations have lost sight of.

A professional doesn't need to be custom crafted like some unskilled laborer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Utter nonsense

Utterly true.

I moved over the pond and my job history and education became rather meaningless (especially with stupid online forms that won't allow anything but 10 digit phone numbers). And most general IT jobs are completely hung up on A+ certs.

A bearing in the power supply fan goes out. What should you replace?

A. Fan

B. Case

C. Bearing

D. Power Supply

Answer: D

Explanation: The whole power supply should be replaced. PC technicians should not

try to repair power supplies.

Do not use the fan from an old or unused case even though there are no spare power supplies, it is Saturday night and a new one will take at least 2 days to arrive. Electricity bad!

So I got a job swapping out desktops for a call center as part of a team of 10. Everybody but me and two others didn't have an A+ cert. No guess who did 40 machines a night and who struggled to make sure to use the same IP address as the old machine?

</rant>

Why wouldn't they use a DHCP server btw?

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Re: still, as office jobs go

> I doubt there's seldom anything more demanding.

Either you work for a very poor employer or you have had a very sheltered life!

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

It's a huge problem in the US as well. It's known as the "purple squirrel" phenomenon in some circles over here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: seen job adds lately ?

I work in a major company which has recruited many Indian immigrant workers. The strategy is this:

Indian goes to work for BT Tech Mahindra in India with I believe the intention to use the company to get to the UK and work inside BT in Ipswich. Indian immigrant works for BT in Ipswich for a period of time then leaves to become a contractor or employee with another UK company.

If they become a contractor, eventually they try to become an employee to win enough points on their immigration visa to continue to extend their stay in the UK.

Eventually, having spent enough years in the UK, the indian immigrant applies for an 'upgrade' to their visa for 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Anyone remember the debacle 2.5 years ago with Tory Harris Business systems in Bristol advertising for Indian workers? Their recruitment agency soon removed the job advert claiming it was a 'mistake', there were objections that their recruitment policy was racist. Torry Harris is an Indian company with an office in Bristol.

It wasn't an accident in my opinion. They just weren't aware of the rules here in the UK, and they got caught..but no punishment.

All it needs is one Indian manager to be recruited by the UK company, and then within 2 years, there is a massive influx of indian immigrants because the indian manager will only recruit his fellow compatriots.

Seen it happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Might it be ...

That this is because the majority of HR psychos are women?

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Alert

Re: seen job adds lately ?

Sitting in a chair!

Paah! Sometimes you have to go under the desk and wiggle a cable. It's hell down there, i tell you.

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Re: still, as office jobs go

> I doubt there's seldom anything more demanding.

Either you work for a very poor employer or you have had a very sheltered life!

Then enlighten me: which office jobs are more demanding than IT?

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Re: seen job adds lately ?

I have tons of fake jobs, reposted every week for the same thing to get you on their database.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This.

>>All certification schemes are pointless.

Yes, you are completely correct, they certainly don't get your CV filtered into a shortlist or give you and advantage over other candidates.... not.

It's completely irrelevant whether *you* think certification exams (or any qualifications in general) are pointless, if you believe that knowing enough to pass an exam is irrelevant that's fine, don't bother - your choice.

>>identify people stupid enough to pay a software company to say they know their product's documentation

Quite right, people are sooo stupid to be able to show they know a product, did you really write this?

>>I spend my life fixing problems caused by people who've hired people because they can read a book, (oops, meant pass a certification exam.)

I can't believe you're missing the point so badly here! these people got hired...... because they got the qualifications! now if these people have *no* experience, then give them a junior role and develop their experience (as you would with a graduate).

By your own admission, certifications get you jobs, it genuinely doesn't hurt to get the certification, and it often broadens the knowledge of people with a long-term experience of a narrow skillset, if you want to change jobs, or are being made redundant, then you need *every* possible thing in your favour to get a job, that might be turning up on time, a nice haircut, breath mints, a clear CV, qualifications, finding out about the company you're being interviewed for etc.

I spent £10k on training, worked in IT > 25 years, done some things before anyone else in the UK, written SFL on ICL mainframes, UNIX kernel modules in C, modified code from Applied Cryptography back in '95, done things that I'm not even allowed to tell you I've done, built hundreds of Oracle databases, today I manage a petabyte of customer data, and yes I add Oracle Certified Professional to my CV, because all that experience might mean nothing if I don't get an interview because I haven't ticked a particular box on an HR CV filter, it cost me £500 to get the initial certification, I've spent more than than for a dinner for four at the Ivy.

By the sound of it, you could pass the exams easily, but imagine if you go for a job and somone less capable gets an interview, and you don't because of something so trivial (as not having 10g on your CV), missing out on an apportunity for the sake of two or three days pay.

Your choice, your career.

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Mushroom

Re: This.

Why did they offer you desktop support money for a DBA job?

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IT Angle

I must of missed

I must of missed the drive to get more mails as house makers, nurses, kindergarden teachers, Olympic syncronised swimmimg and above all pole dancing.

If somebody wants to do IT then it's there choice and as long as it is judges upon merit then fine, focusing on any other aspect is not addressing the issue.

If the issue is descrimination then that needs to be addressed at all levels, not by fudging the books by briding and moraly inducing women or anybody in a what effects fair choice. If women want to work in IT there is nothing stopping them and if there is and it is nothing to do with ability to do the job then that needs to be addressed as it is against the law. If your windows keep getting smashed then you take actions to stop those windows getting smashed, not put up more windows as a solution.

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Re: I must of missed @PXG

Just one question. Do you have a job?

Sorry, two questions. Are you old enough to have a job?

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Re: I must of missed

I fear you must have missed your english lessons as well...

Where I am I would say that the number of women working in technical roles in IT has dramatically reduced in the last twenty years. I think that's a bad thing because:

- I reckon a higher percentage of women have a good mind set for customer facing technical support roles than their male colleagues.

- a reduced pool of good people available can only be a bad thing

- I find mixed teams tend to have a better working dynamic

- I think it makes for a more civilised working environment.

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Re: I must of missed

"If women want to work in IT there is nothing stopping them and if there is and it is nothing to do with ability to do the job then that needs to be addressed "

There is certainly something. The farther East you go (India, Eastern Europe), the more sex ratios in IT balance out. In India, programmers are apparently around 50:50 in balance of the sexes. Which pretty much rules out biological differences and puts the blame on culture.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I must of missed

- I reckon a higher percentage of women have a good mind set for customer facing technical support roles than their male colleagues.

You reckon wrong. It's got nothing to do with gender. I come across many, many women PMs who are awful at customer facing - the same proportion as men, actually.

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Re: I must of missed

Which pretty much rules out biological differences and puts the blame on culture.

...Or b/c the job is well/better paid and the jobs in other 'female' preferred areas either scarce or not-so-well-paid (or both), the opt for that choice.

Also in Eastern Europe there are probably over 90% men in the IT.

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FAIL

Re: I must of missed

It's spelt "males". Mails is that papery stuff that comes through the door (probably with the dole cheque in it, in your case).

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Re: I must of missed

@PXG

The researches offered their findings in a report, but didn't explicitly state any action (if any) that employees should take- the conclusion seemed more to do with education of women about the job market. The idea from the employers point of view is that there are some useful individuals out there who aren't putting themselves forward for interview, to mutual loss.

However, many of the smartest women I know are more towards microbiology, finance, neurology, geology, rather than engineering (I know a couple) or IT (can't think of any). There are shadows of 'Men ask "Wow!What does it do?" whereas Women ask "What does it do for me [or for wider society]?"'

By chance, in the last week Woman's Hour featured a female IT director. She had fallen into it by studying and working in chemistry (analytic thinking), seeing what the responsibilities of her company's IT administrator were in practice and thinking to her self "I can do that!". She said was getting no female applicants for an IT role when it was advertised as paying £50k /pa, but quite a few ladies applied when she re-listed the job at £30k.

To look at things the other way, UK primary schools are crying out for male teachers, but again must judge each applicant on their own merits. At the age I was learning about PCs by trying to get the bloody things to play games, a fair few female peers were getting work experience with young children.

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Re: I must of missed

I know few women working in IT and they are, as a rule, better than their male counterparts. Or at leasy trying harder (mostly with success). It seems that women tend apply for IT position they actually want to keep and then focus on the job. Perhaps it's result of "long term thinking" that women are predisposed to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I must of missed

Dear PXG,

I really hope you manage to get the position you're looking for, but having found four spelling or grammar errors in the first two paragraphs of your message, I certainly wouldn't be offering you one.

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Headmaster

Re: I must of missed

Try harder. I found 6 in the first paragraph alone.

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Re: I must of missed

Try using 'must have' and not 'must of'

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Re: Male primary school teachers? Hah

So back when my daughters were just starting school (and we were living in the UK) there was a flyer from the local education people that encouraged parents to get involved as helpers in class. Given that I was contracting and working from home at the time I figured that I had the schedule flexibility to deal with it and I was still new enough at the parenting thing to think it would be a pretty cool thing to do.

So I send in an email and wander in for a chat. To be met with a 'but you're a man !!' attitude. Well, yes, I knew that. Turns out that the prevailing (or at least well entrenched) opinion is/was that only a male who is a pervert would apply to work with young children. I was left under no illusions that I wasn't welcome.

I spoke with some of the fathers of the other kids in the class - to be met with cynical laughter and a 'welcome to the new world' response.

Given that single anecdotal piece of 'evidence' you can draw any conclusion you like - but I have to say that the lack of male primary school teachers doesn't surprise me. The numbers are slightly (but not much) better in California BTW - although when I volunteered for my kids schools there I was welcomed with open arms.

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IT Angle

Re: Male primary school teachers? Hah

Yes, all men are sex offenders in waiting apparently.

God only knows the damage this is doing to male children. Pretty pathetic.

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Re: I must of missed

"Where I am I would say that the number of women working in technical roles in IT has dramatically reduced in the last twenty years."

I've noticed the same thing: I think we need to look at what's happened over the past 20 years to cause this. I think part of the problem are the "women in IT" programmes, which I personally think succeed in making it look a much more forbidding place than it really is.

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Re: I must of missed

Fortunately the previous set of "Women in IT" just retired.

Working on a govt contract with an anonymous British AerospacE company was a bit surprised that more than half the programmers on a pretty technical/nerdy satellite tracking project were women, and most were 50+.

Talking to some of them the history was. They were working for Gec/Marconi/Honeywell in the late 70s/early 80s when somebody decided there needed to be more women in IT. Programming is just typing right, so they "retrained" the secretaries as programmers. Some were good, and would have been good SW engineers if they had the opportunities at the time - the others ? Well suppose you took some typists, gave them a couple of week course on Fortran 77 and then put them in a govt job where they could never be fired......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I must of missed

Women have dropped because the government has provided loads of subjective jobs to employ them. Men prefer objective jobs, women prefer jobs where you shuffle papers and don't really have the chance to fail. It's just evolution at work, women prefer less risk.

When given virtually any situation, women will choose the safe one, and men the one that has the most reward.

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