The number of women in senior technology positions at U.S. companies is down for the second year in a row, according to a survey published on Monday.
Nine percent of U.S. chief information officers (CIOs) are female, down from 11 percent last year and 12 percent in 2010, according to the survey by the U.S. arm of British technology outsourcing and recruitment company Harvey Nash Group.
About 30 percent of those polled said their information technology (IT) organization has no women at all in management. Yet only about half of survey respondents consider women to be under-represented in the IT department.
Although women have reached senior positions at Facebook, Xerox, IBM, Oracle and other large companies, they are absent at the top of many IT departments. That makes it hard to draw others to senior roles.
“Less and less women are attracted into that space so you wind up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Anna Frazzetto, senior vice president of international technology solutions, at Harvey Nash USA. “It’s not a very welcoming arena to be in.”
Women also face the “preconceived notion” that they are focused on other priorities like starting a family. That bias is damaging to IT departments because many struggle to find qualified workers.
The survey, conducted with TelecityGroup, included responses from 450 U.S. technology leaders. It is part of a wider, global survey that found increasing tech budgets and more visible roles for CIOs.
A majority of those surveyed said their organization is facing a skills shortage in areas such as business analysis and project management.
“The skills shortage is the biggest it’s ever been, and it’s going to cause companies to get a little more creative in shifting the culture of organizations,” Frazzetto said.
That shift is already taking place at small companies, but large ones have yet to change their culture, she said.
While the U.S. average of 9 percent female CIOs has declined, it is actually triple the global average of 3 percent, Harvey Nash found.