Friday, October 19, 2007

GHC: Helping Businesses Invent the Future: Improving Engagement among Women in High Tech

Heather Foust-Cummings from Catalyst, Inc, gave a fun and deeply interesting talk on attempting to expand opportunities for women & business. She notes that while women make up 46.3% of the workforce, they only make up 15.6% of Fortune 500 corporate officers, and only 6.7% of Fortune 500 top earners. Wow. So it's not just our imagination that we make less than men.

Catalyst, Inc has been doing more and more studies of women in technology and science, most recently they did a study with an online survey in January-February 2007. The survey was not random, more of a "convenient" sample, but they found the respondents were from a variety of backgrounds.

Women in technology gave these barriers for lack of career advancement:

  • Lack of similar role models
  • Lack of a mentor/champion who makes accomplishments known
  • Exclusion from important networks of key decision makers

According to Heather this is not unique to women in tech - women in other professional jobs have the same problems. Bummer!

She went on to go into great detail of her yet to be published survey results (so we were asked to not publish them yet), ways individual women can improve their chances of career advancement, and things managers can do to get a good balance and make sure they don't overlook the women in their organization.

Valerie Fenwick

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