This article is by Stratpoint CEO MR dela Cruz, based on her participation in DICT’s “Women in ICT Industry Thriving in the New Normal” on March 17, 2021.
When I was studying computer science at UP, there were as many women as there were men in our class. Thirty years later, more people are using computers, mobile phones, and the internet. Our homes are equipped with smart devices. There are thousands of jobs in IT today. Yet, only 20% of students enrolled in a computer technology course today are women.
What happened? I suspect the decline in interest by women has a lot to do with the media promoting myths about the IT profession.
For example, IT professionals have been painted in movies and on TV as nerds. They live in dirty basements and don’t know how to talk to regular people. When the nerds are female, they are unattractive, wear ill-fitted clothing, and are unable to relate with others. On the other hand, successful women work in fashion magazines or in advertising agencies.
This is fiction.
What is it really like to be a woman in IT?
I know a lot of women in IT who are business leaders, technology enthusiasts, mothers, athletes, fashionistas, artists, entrepreneurs, and more. I am the CEO of a software development company, and I belong to several social circles. We are definitely not social lepers.
One only has to look to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix’s Anne Aaron, and Globe/Mynt’s Pebbles Sy-Manalang to realize that women in technology are individuals that young girls can aspire for. Women with radiant personalities and who live interesting lives.
Moreover, ad agencies and fashion magazines do not have a monopoly of all creative work in the world. In Stratpoint, we build applications. We come up with solutions. We create experiences for millions of users. Not only do our apps have to look good, but they also have to feel good. With dozens of apps launching everyday, each one has to be better than the last. This is how we do creative work.
Being a woman in IT does not equate to frantically typing code in a cubicle 8 hours a day. Many of us have had our share of that, for sure — but our jobs are not a hindrance to living and performing our passions inside and outside of work.
IT is a great career for women
If you are interested in code, data, or robots, and you happen to be a woman, do not pass up a chance for an IT career just because it is perceived as a masculine job. First of all, you do not need broad shoulders or male chromosomes to code. Most of all, IT is a fulfilling career that pays well and will stand the test of time.
- There is a 20% to 30% higher demand for IT jobs than in other industries.
- Average salaries for IT professionals are higher. You can easily double your salary year to year.
- IT is a resilient profession. You don’t have to spend decades studying technology in school. You can continuously develop your knowledge and skills through short courses, certifications, and, most importantly, experience. And, as exemplified by the recent and urgent need for companies to go digital, IT skills will always be relevant.
We should all be flocking to IT job boards — today. (Visit Stratpoint’s career page while you’re at it.)
IT can be challenging for women
In my participation in DICT’s “Women in ICT Thriving in the New Normal”, the all-female panel of IT leaders expressed that we have never experienced gender-based discrimination in our long careers. For this I am grateful.
But being a woman in IT is not always a smooth ride. We must note that gender stereotyping is still very much prevalent and is something that I myself have experienced as a technical architect. I, too, was not taken seriously because I am female. It didn’t stop me from advancing to executive leadership, but I had to assert myself more, speak louder, and take charge more often.
Ladies, let’s break these stereotypes. We should not shy away from our interests just because the industry is male-dominated or because we are being judged for our gender. We support and encourage other women to thrive in the workplace. Little by little, we fight sexism by speaking up and educating others about our experience as women.
I am a CEO
My vision is an IT industry where I will not be called a “woman CEO” or a “boss lady”. While the nicknames seem empowering, they are romanticizing that I am in what is typically a male role. When there are women in IT, more women will emerge as leaders too, not because we are female but because we can create solutions to problems. We can harness the power of technology. We can lead. These are the things that make a CEO, regardless of gender, and in those capabilities, men and women are always equal.