Monday, March 22, 2010

New Research from ABI Highlights the Characteristics That Lead to Advancement of Technical Women

This is an excerpt from the latest Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology newsletter. You can subscribe to it here.

A new research report released today by the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology (ABI) sheds light on the attributes of senior level technical women who, at only four percent of the 1,795 technical men and women surveyed for the report, represent a rarity in the technology industry. The report, titled Senior Technical Women: A Profile of Success, examines the characteristics of high-ranking women in technology, how they perceive themselves and their top attributes for success, and what organizational practices they most care about. The ABI report is publicly available at

Senior Technical Women: A Profile of Success explores the demographics and attributes shared among women who defy the odds and achieve senior level positions on the technical track. It also makes recommendations for companies looking to retain senior technical women and for women seeking to advance to senior level positions.

Report Highlights

Successful women in technology show the same attributes of success, human capital, and work values, as senior level men. Senior technical women are collaborative, assertive, moderate risk-takers who work long hours, and they have made significant concessions to advance.

Manager vs. Individual Contributor: Women in the study were significantly more likely than men to hold managerial positions. Conversely, men at higher level positions were more likely to hold individual contributor positions, suggesting that men and women are tracking differently at the senior level. Lack of representation of women in the highest individual contributor positions is a loss for companies, as it represents an absence of diversity of thought in the innovation process.

Family and Career: Senior women are significantly more likely to have children than are entry or mid-level women. However, 51 percent of senior men report that their partners have primary responsibility for the household and children, while 24 percent of senior women have partners who have primary responsibility of the household. This suggests that senior women face work-family challenges similar to those faced by women at the mid-level, with the additional pressure of a higher position of responsibility. Combining high level positions and family responsibilities comes at a price. Senior women are significantly more likely than men to have delayed having children, as well as cut back on their social life to achieve career goals.