Google’s Results…Women as Mentors in the IT Field?

Susan Ellsworth

Recently an experienced Toastmasters friend introduced in a LinkedIn group the subject of mentoring—a much commented on but somewhat less well-developed aspect of the overall Toastmasters program for communication and leadership.

His comments took me back to an experience many years ago shortly after I had passed my CNE exams. Much to my surprise at the time, those who had held similar (or higher) certifications did not appreciate my reading relevant professional background documents ahead of time and citing them prior to major configuration projects to the technicians who presumably were part of my team. Clearly, what they expected was failure—or at least struggle—on my part and rescue on their part. Mentoring consisted of one senior tech telling me that the others did not appreciate my having done my homework in advance.

Fast forward to this afternoon.

I ran a Google search on mentoring and the IT profession in the past year. There were 448 results, several of which mentioned women and our need to be mentored.  Some were studies, some were offers and some were opinions posted in traditional IT press.

What really fascinated me was my next Google search on “women as mentors” and “IT profession” in the past year. Google’s result? Evidently, my query “did not match any documents.”

So I reduced the query by one word and searched for “women mentors” and “IT Profession”  in the past year. The result? One citation at http://tinyurl.com/2a4vzer. “Ahh,” I thought, “we are making progress.”  I clicked on the link. And what was the opening paragraph? Here it is: “The CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN) and CATA Women in Technology Forum (CATA WIT) announced today a partnership to provide an e-Mentorship program to help women aspiring to be CIOs move into IT leadership positions. ”

Is it really true—as my Google results seem to suggest—that women in the IT field are not mentoring others in the field just yet? Or is it just that Google’s search algorithms are just not bringing me any results that show that women really ARE serving as mentors to other IT professionals?

Whichever is true, I look forward to the day that the search shows women in the IT field mentoring men. The last time I attended a professional technical presentation for computing professionals, it was heavily dominated by men. And I found myself wondering how many of us were actually technical versus how many of us were in sales and marketing. I myself was (and still am) mentored by men in the computing field. It’s just that, in the course of preparing this blog, I learned from a man in another field entirely that one of his mentors is a woman.  When will IT catch up? Or is it Google?

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