I found an article in UB Tech last year asking why aren't women becoming CIOs, but it escaped my attention until recently while I was having a conversation with a colleague about the need to encourage women to enter the sciences. (My B.S. is in physics, and I used to advise ΑΣΚ sorority for women in technical studies, so this is a topic that is very close to me.)
The article, by Jerome P. DeSanto, says interviews and focus groups with female CIOs reveal that the answer to this question is not obvious:
Some posit that, in the early days of the CIO in the 1980s, the information technology field was dominated by engineer-types, many of whom were graduates of computing science or electrical engineering programs. These individuals were largely males who were banded together in common professional and personal interests making it difficult for females to participate.
Others would argue this phenomenon is merely reflective of the low proportion of female senior executives in higher education. On most campuses, the CIO role has risen in prominence as a senior administrator due to its perceived strategic importance. So, it is logical that the proportion of female CIOs would track with other senior management positions where males have dominated.
Finally, some have suggested, many females are simply not interested in the role, due to the work's nature and content. The function may fundamentally not appeal to many females who may see the level of politics and diplomacy at senior levels of the administration as undesirable.
So I interpret this to mean there are three possible reasons women may be discouraged from becoming CIOs:
- Cultural - IT organizations were initially dominated by men, and established a culture that made it difficult for women to be successful.
- Statistics - The article suggests that there just aren't very many women at the executive level in higher ed, so it would follow that there aren't many women entering the CIO role.
- Interest - The role of CIO may not be appealing to women, who may see the politics required at senior levels as undesirable.
I am not familiar with the research, so I can't make a strong case for any of these three. However, my personal opinion is that Cultural plays a very strong role here. What are your thoughts?