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Will cloud computing kick the IT door in for women?

Sandra Gittlen | Aug. 30, 2012
Poke your head into most data centers today and you’re bound to notice a distinct gender gap. While women still represent only a fraction of IT workers today, some experts believe that cloud computing will offer the wedge in the door that women need to equalize staffing numbers.

Poke your head into most data centers today and youre bound to notice a distinct gender gap. While women still represent only a fraction of IT workers today, some experts believe that cloud computing will offer the wedge in the door that women need to equalize staffing numbers.

Cloud computing presents an opportunity for women who are not as heavily focused on the architectural design, and how bits and bytes move through the organization, says JJ DiGeronimo, a veteran of IT and director of global cloud solutions at VMware. We'll still need women who are technical, but cloud provides the chance to also champion ideas and work cross-functionally to define how IT is delivered to business. Skills, she believes, are a strong suit of many women.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that by 2020 there will be nearly 1.4 million computing and IT jobs available what should be a golden opportunity for women to fill out ITs ranks.

Yet, according to a 2010 report published by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the percentage of computing occupations held by women has been declining since 1991, when it reached a high of 36 percent.

The picture is not any rosier if you look at education. Women comprised fewer than 20 percent of 2011 PhD graduates in computer science, computer engineering and information science, according to Computing Research Associations Computing Degree and Enrollment Trends report. Only slightly better, 30 percent of masters degree recipients in the same subjects were women. Worst of all, less than 13 percent of bachelors degrees were awarded to women.

So how will women be able to capitalize on the high growth rate in the technology sector 22 percent predicted by the Labor Department? All signs point away from the data center and into the cloud.

Gartner found in its 2011 CIO Agenda Survey that although, at the time, only three percent of CIO respondents had a majority of their infrastructure in the cloud, the number was expected to climb to 43 percent by 2015. Survey participants also cited cloud computing as their top technology priority.

At State Street Corp., cloud is definitely the betted-on technology horse and Lauren Savage, senior vice president for IT Strategy and Governance, sees women like herself being offered the chance to take the reins.

Savage, along with several of her female executive peers, has been instrumental in helping State Street realign its business and create a new platform that utilizes the benefits of private cloud architecture, virtualization and virtual desktops.

She credits both the changing nature of traditional IT and the characteristics of the cloud, such as a heavy influence on collaboration and project management, for womens increased interest. Women are definitely becoming more attracted to IT because they see IT becoming a critical function to business performance, Savage says. IT is now less about keeping the lights on in the server room, and more about being creative and adding value to the business.

 

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