Is it harder for women techies to succeed?

A new college grad wonders if she'll have a tough time getting promoted in the IT field. What do female techies think? Fortune's Anne Fisher explains.

By Anne Fisher, Fortune senior writer

(Fortune) -- Dear Annie: I am a brand new college grad with a B.S. in computer science and a minor in business, looking for my first paying job in the field, and a friend sent me your May 23 column ("10 great job markets for techies"). You mentioned that a recent survey said that 94% of techies are happy in their work, and 88% would recommend the field to others. Do you happen to know if that is as true for women as for men? When I picked my major, a few people told me that women have a hard time getting promoted in IT because it is still considered a "man's field." -Cybergirl

Dear Cybergirl: Hmmm. Well, that survey didn't break out respondents by sex. But another one, by the IT job-search and networking site Women in Technology International (, did. In a poll of more than 2,000 female techies (including 16 women CIOs), 75% said they would advise a young woman to launch a career in IT. About three-quarters (73%) are confident that their bosses respect their work, yet only 52% believe their employer offers a "favorable climate" for women. Tellingly, almost half (46%) said they have never had a mentor at their current company.


In job interviews, ask how women are faring - maybe even ask to speak with a few female techies - and see what you find out. Once you've been hired, seek out a mentor (not necessarily female) whose career progress you'd like to emulate. Then do great work. You'll be fine.

Friends, to follow up on a reader's letter that appeared in the June 8 column ("How to answer a boss's tough questions") about video resumes: Anybody interested in creating one might want to check out, where employers can view job candidates' videotaped presentations for free. (It's free to the candidates, too.)

The video profiles are password-protected, and each prospective employer gets a unique viewing code, so "we can let the candidate know not only how many times their video was viewed but by whom, " writes CEO Phillip Thune, who adds that, because HireMeNow was designed for job seekers, "we're much more professional than YouTube or MySpace." Worth a look.

Are you in tech? Does your company offer a favorable climate for women? What advice would you give a new college grad who wants to move up in the field? Post your thoughts in the Ask Annie blog. Top of page