Social networking helping women turn on to tech

Social networking helping women turn on to tech
The female of the species is increasingly heading towards a tech leadership role, according to research conducted by Orange’s Silicon Valley-based labs.

By Maggie Holland, 13 Jul 2009 at 08:00
Front cover of Orange Labs’ Her Code report

The IT industry is still suffering from a gender imbalance but recent high-profile leadership appointments and the growth of social networking is helping to turn things around.

So claims research published by Orange Labs, a Silicon Valley research arm and part of the France Telecom Group.

Last week, after several months of research and interviews, the labs published a report that looks at the history of women in IT and how technology itself is helping encourage more females into the industry today.

“The dearth of women in technology-related fields has been an enduring challenge. One traditionally explored via predictable frameworks – educational, governmental, and cultural. Less considered, and for some reason, less obvious, is the technological dimension,” states the foreword to the research report entitled Her code: Engendering change in the Silicon Valley.’

“…Guided by a historical perspective, enriched with interviews by interviews with high-profile women executives and journalists in tech, supplemented by interviews with young girls, and complemented by literature review and secondary research, we came to a surprising path of inquiry. What role does technology itself play in the evolution of women’s career trajectories in the tech field?”

Referencing recent female tech successes, such as the appointment of Carol Bartz as Yahoo’s chief executive in January this year, the research suggested that women and tech aren’t so much ‘missing’ as ‘misunderstood.’

Indeed, it pointed to statistics such as the fact that just two per cent of open source developers are female and just 11.8 per cent of Computer Science bachelors degrees are awarded to women.

These figures are in contrast to women’s voracious appetite for technology, particularly the online kind. According to the report’s findings some 70 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 17 have a social network profile. Similarly, more than half (56 per cent) of Facebook’s 200 million users are women and 75 per cent more girls blog compared to their male counterparts.

Perhaps the most interesting figure reported is the fact that Facebook’s fastest growing segment is that of women aged 55 and over, which has grown by 175 per cent since September last year.

The full report can be found here.

Source: ITPro