Follow the Leader: Why We Need More Women CIOs in Tech

It is well-known that despite a slow but steady rise in the number of female executives in leadership positions in the IT sector, the industry still struggles to attract women into technology careers. IT is still largely considered to be a male dominated industry, where only 28% of those in the workforce are women. In the top leadership positions, this discrepancy is even greater, where only 14% of CIOs are female.

One bright spot for female CIOs has been in higher education where the gender difference hasn’t been as great. In fact, the percentage of higher education CIOs who were women (23 percent in 2010) is close to the percentage of women receiving advanced degrees in computer and information sciences during the same time.  While these advanced degrees have not attracted a greater number of women into the industry, women who are in CIO positions are viewed as having advanced leadership skills.  In fact, their leadership skills tend to trump the leadership skills that men possess in several key areas.

As everyone knows, differences exist between men and women. The way men lead also differs from the way women lead. What works for one, may not work for the other. This is exactly where women CIOs differentiate themselves from their male counterparts in HOW they lead. Below are a few examples of how female CIO’s differ in the way they lead, and why that difference is refreshing to the tech industry:

Women possess stronger interpersonal skills

In a recent study entitled  The Qualities that Distinguish Women Leaders, it was found that female leaders were stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts, which can be an advantage in cultures where leaders are valued for demeanor and interactions with others. The study reported that the profile of a female leader is “… much more conducive to today’s diverse workplace, where information is shared freely, collaboration is vital…”. It was concluded that women leaders outperform their male counterparts in emotional intelligence, they are more empathetic, and they excel at networking and use of social media to support their connections.

Women can break the gender stereotype

Women CIOs can help foster useful and productive collaboration by taking away the barriers that may exist with male CIOs. Male CIOs are often perceived as an intimidating individual holding the keys to the technical resources that everyone needs to function in the company. Women, on the other hand, are more readily accepted by their colleagues as co-collaborators because they are perceived to be more open to listening and (in a large way) less threatening.

Women in leadership positions benefits the company financially

Per a study at Development Dimensions International (DDI), the global leadership development consultancy, “Encouraging gender diversity in leadership ranks leads to more diversity of thought prompting improved problem solving and increased business benefits. Organizations with women in at least 30 percent of leadership roles are 12 times more likely to be in the top 20 percent of financial performers. Organizations in the bottom 20 percent have only 19 percent of their leaders as women. When women occupy top leadership spots it pays dividends to the bottom-line in the form of increased revenue and profits.”

Those are just a few examples of why there is a great need for more women to pursue a career in the IT field, as well as occupying more CIO positions. Not only does the company benefit, but women in general will benefit. The wall into the perceived “For Men Only” IT sector will finally collapse!

For more information on what skills are needed to become a CIO, or if you are an IT expert looking to advance your career,  talk to one of our IT Staffing Professionals at CultureFit.