Thursday 8th October, 2015
12:10pm to 12:40pm
Where are the women? Women are underrepresented in IT! We either don’t enter a career in software, or we leave early. We experience a hostile environment, feel we need to keep up with an unsustainable pace (that will also clash with family responsibilities), experience a diminished sense of purpose and also get paid less than our male peers and advance with more difficulty in our career. We miss peers and / or mentors.
This gender gap is a material burden to the software industry and a lost opportunity for our workforce. The relative absence of women in software teams contributes to software and solutions that underserve women, whilst women are significant customers and buyers. So it is also simply a competitive advantage to have women on your teams, to collaborate and share their tacit knowledge (based on the excellent 2012 article by Ken Judy: Agile Values, Innovation and the Shortage of Women Software Developers)
The software industry needs to make an effort to educate, recruit and retain women (developers). They are a welcome additional resource but also valuable for the diversity of experience they bring to teams.
So we need more women, but what can we do?
Using our Lean / Agile values will really make a difference (this is also my personal experience)!
Nonaka and Takeuchi already emphasized that a team made of members with different backgrounds, perspectives and motivations is critical for organizational knowledge creation to take place.
Agile / scrum values help addressing the impediments women experience when pursuing a career in IT. For example the heart of Agile principles is the primacy of team – in a well performing agile team a hostile environment (as experienced by many women) will not be tolerated. The typical ‘alpha male behaviour’ that many women, including myself, find so difficult, is not tolerated in a real team environment. There’s other stuff in agile that makes a difference to many women. Stuff like collaboration, sustainable pace and collective ownership.
If you work in an agile environment and are wondering where the women are, do step up. Share your lean / agile experiences with women, at work, at the rugby match or maybe at your kids (primary) schools. Go tell what it is all about, help create a realistic view of work in tech for young people – including women.
We need to educate girls and women on programming and IT subjects. And we need to do that early on (like is already happening with the coder dojos around the world).
For the women that actually do start a career in STEM, we need to offer support and mentoring (by men and women alike by the way). and we need to offer role models to young women. There’s a lot more to do. But mostly we need to show off our lean and agile principles and way of working. Because that will really, fundamentally make a difference to a lot of women.
Help create an environment that women can flourish in. It will make a difference, for all of us.
Agile Architect bio from LinkedIn
Maryse is a lean / agile solution architect who has been working in IT since 2008. She graduated as a linguist (neurolinguistics) and started off as a project manager. She got into IT because it seemed – at the time – that her focus on people and sensitivity for what is actually really needed in solution engineering – would add value. It still does. Now working as a solution architect she’s convinced that in her daily job the added value of combining technical ability with emotional intelligence is tremendous. Inspiring more women to consider a career in tech is one of her ambitions. To Maryse lean and agile philosophy is a way of life – and she’s convinced that a focus on agile might bring about more women in IT
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