Still, women themselves are not chiefly to blame for the relative scarcity of female leaders in IT, speakers concurred. A wide range of often unconscious but deeply ingrained preconceptions and practices are ultimately a bigger barrier.
“The industry has a lot of room to improve,” noted Dorothy Copeland, vice president of IBM’s North American partner ecosystem. “We all have a lot of work to do.”
The payoff for that effort will be more than a level playing field for capable employees, though. Bottom lines will benefit as well, observed Siobhan Dullea, CEO of startup accelerator MassChallenge. Headquartered in Boston, the organization recently partnered with Ingram on the Comet Competition, an initiative first announced last October that seeks to accelerate the growth of promising cloud ISVs. A Boston Consulting Group study commissioned by MassChallenge, Dullea noted, found that while women-founded startups get less initial financial investment than others on average, they usually perform better long term.
“We don’t just do this because balance is good,” said Dullea of diversity-promotion efforts. “It’s just the right business decision as well.”