Senior Technical Women: A profile of success

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Senior Technical Women: A profile of success

by gender news on Friday, April 2, 2010 - 6:47am

iStockThe mid-career level has been identified by researchers as an especially difficult juncture, where 56% of technical women leave their companies. Anita Borg Institute Vice President of Research, Caroline Simard, andShannonK. Gilmartin, PhD, Director of SKG Analysis, asked a key question: What about the women who persist and advance past the mid-level? Starting with data collected for a 2008 study by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, Gilmartin and Simard focus on Senior Technical Women, a rarity at only 4 percent of their sample. The team asked the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of these senior women?
  • How do they perceive themselves on top attributes of success?
  • Which organizational practices do they most care about? What can companies do to retain them?
  • What do these findings tell us about women in technology, generally?

The analysis can be found in the Anita Borg Institute report, Senior Technical Women: A profile of success. One interesting finding is in the realm of individual contribution vs. management. The research shows that senior technical women are significantly more likely to be in a manager position (36.9%) than are men (19%). This difference does not exist at the mid-level. This echos previous research showing that women do not have equal access to technology creation roles. The report ends with recommendations to technology companies, including career development for women who excel as individual contributors.