Research: In IT, women are promoted more often because their work costs less

Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in the IT industry. Moreover, more and more women receive degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, but they do not necessarily make a career in IT, because they do not see opportunities for growth. A new study by the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, published in Information Systems Research, explores how gender affects the likelihood of career advancement in the IT industry.

Using a five-year dataset of more than 7,000 employees at a leading IT services firm in India, Nishta Langer, associate professor of business intelligence at Rensselaer, determined that gender is a strong predictor of career advancement.

Researchers also examined archival data to understand how the interaction between gender, performance, and learning affects IT advancement to such an extent. Even though IT companies adhere to a more equitable organizational policy and egalitarian work environment, research shows that this latent discrimination against women in IT continues to exist. However, the study also points to effective strategies that women in IT can use to move forward in their careers of their choice.

Researchers believe that women are likely to be promoted more often because they are considered more helpful and trustworthy than men, and because of inequality in pay, they are often a cheaper employee.

In addition to all the good news for women in the IT industry, men continue to show a higher likelihood of improvement as a result of increased productivity. Thus, this speaks of a more subtle form of discrimination compared to more explicit forms of discrimination.

A more effective tool for women to show their readiness for career advancement is to take training courses. They are more likely to be promoted than men who are undergoing the same training. According to the study, women may be more opportunistic when it comes to enrolling in courses that provide faster career advancement. They may also be more experienced in translating acquired knowledge into a career path.

Google News button