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Companies start listening
to the needs of
female employees


Computer and technology jobs have moved beyond the Dilbert era according to Linda Scherr, program director of IBM Women in Technology. Scherr admits in an article published in the November 2000 issue of CIO Magazine that women in information technology can still expect to work long hours, but recruiters have had to begin addressing the needs of women to increase human diversity in the technology field.

Jerry Patton, vice president of human resources at LavaStorm (a systems engineering company) participated in a panel discussion on gender issues at Harvard in June of 2000.

Like many Internet startups, LavaStorm created a corporate culture including Recreational Activities for Motivation (RAM) which allocated ten percent of company space to playrooms featuring Ping-Pong, foosball, air hockey tables, an indoor batting cage and a massage chair. Patten said, “In the past, I have had applicants who were women identify that our culture would not work well for them.”

Jean Marzilli, LavaStorm’s recently hired director of staffing is committed to hiring more women and said, “Probably, we (women) want practical things, not playthings, ways to simplify our lives, like a concierge service to pick up the dry cleaning or shop for food.”

Some technology related organizations are already demonstrating these changes. The National Security Agency (NSA) reported, based on January 2001 numbers, that 41 percent of its computer scientists and 31 percent of its mathematicians are women.

Although not offering salaries as high as private industry, Deborah Bonnani, NSA technical director for human resources said, “We can appeal to women with continuing education programs, on site childcare, flexible work arrangements and fitness centers. These things are big sellers, very enticing to women.” The NSA’s reported overall attrition rate of five to six percent is low in today’s economy.

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