Re-training Female IT Workers

Getting Women Back Into IT
CIO Insight (12/03/07) Perelman, Deborah

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 28 percent of mothers in the United States with children under the age of 18 do not work. Much research has been conducted on mothers who leave the workforce to raise children, but little research has been done on women who try to re-enter the workforce. In an industry such as IT, where there is intense pressure to update and maintain skills, trying to re-enter the workforce can be quite challenging and intimidating.

Chicago-based software consultancy ThoughtWorks has launched a four-week training class for women looking to get back into IT. The re-training class will focus on updating women’s programming skills and could possibly lead to a job offer.

“Someone who has been out for 10 years is going to have rusty programming skills, so we are going to teach them the basics of Java and other fundamentals the first two weeks,” says ThoughtWorks’ Jackie Kinsey.

Through ads and word-of-mouth, 60 women have expressed interest in the class, 12 of which will be in the first pilot class in Britain. However, not all of the women interested in the program left to have children, with about 30 percent of the group leaving IT for other reasons. “A couple women said they’d had bad experiences in organizations and had left IT disillusioned,” Kinsey says. “We found that there is a definite gap in the market in training for women who have left the job market.”