After 5 years, a few weeks ago I decided I had enough of IT; it was time to quit. The same week I moved from IT to the Marketing department of my company, other two women who have managed me at various times did the same. It seems that we are not alone: Roy Mark wrote a commentary on Internet News (Where have all the women gone?; via Caterina Fake on Misbehaving.net) about women slowly bleeding out of IT (a 20% decrease in the percentage of women in the last 10 years).
I find reassuring that I am not the only one experiencing dissatisfaction with the IT environment. Mark quotes comments about “high-school locker room mentality” and “hostility to women.” In my experience, it’s much more subtle than that. I found that the IT culture, initially exciting and seemingly full of possibilities, in the long run does not fulfill its promises. What I found frustrating is not so much the exclusion from the boy’s club–although there is definitely some of that–but rather the excessive emphasis on speed rather than quality (for a different take on this issue, see Alan Key on the disappointing lack of new and revolutionary programming languages; via Andrew), on execution rather than strategy, and the disregard for the human and caring aspects of building applications (e.g., the quality of the user experience rather than the quality of the code).
I may be wrong, but I am afraid IT management is not paying attention to why we are leaving. I hope that the evolution of technology towards social and connected computing will demand a different approach to IT development and force the boy’s club to open up to the world.