Feeds

MS shuts up on number of women engineers

Yes, no, maybe...

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Microsoft has once again fallen back on a discredited privacy defence to deflect questions on the proportion of its certified engineers who are women.

Last month, Microsoft told El Reg that it would try and work out how many women had qualfied as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers.

The vendor has now clammed up on the issue, issuing a written statement citing data privacy concerns and refusing to answer further questions. But there should not be anything to be embarrassed about. It is indeed likely that a small proportion of the 1.7m certified Microsoft professionals in the world are women. This is usual for an industry in which around 20 per cent of IT workers are women and most of them are stuck in lowly jobs.

Debbie Ellen, a British academic who has been putting pressure on Microsoft over its gender policy, said Microsoft UK's previous diversity manager, Suzy Black, had told her she was looking at whether contracts with certified examiners Pearson Vue and Thomson Prometric could be renegotiated in order to oblige them to collect gender data.

It is understood that examiners and trainers do not collect gender data intentionally and that this makes it impossible to tell how many engineers are women. Microsoft cannot confirm whether contract negotiations are still on the table. It has previously said both that the data does and does not exist.

It since emerged, thanks to a Register reader, that the MCSE section of Microsoft.com requires .NET passport registration, which requires gender to be given. Does that mean the data might exist? Again, Microsoft remains schtum.

There are other indications that the data could exist. Microsoft sources revealed to InfoWorld Australia in 2001 that of 10,000 MCSEs in the country, just 326 were women.

Ram Dhaliwal, Microsoft UK manager for training and certification, said in a statement last week that knowing how many MCSEs are women was not as important as having employment policies that support them, such as "flexible working policies" and "good career opportunities".

Yet statistics about the numbers of women are necessary to formulate such policies and see if they are working, said Ellen. As the numbers of women working in IT have fallen proportionally by a quarter in the UK since 1997 the statistics suggest policy is not working.

Further, statistics can identify where the problems are. If, say, 10 women attend a certified training course, three take the exams and only one ends up taking a job as an engineer, it may be that the training is not working for them.

Ellen had sought Microsoft's gender data to see how successful standard training programmes were compared to a women-only scheme at getting women into the industry. Without the data, a proper assessment cannot be made, though it is increasingly thought that women fare better on single-sex training courses where they are not suppressed by overbearing, often sexist, men - the launch this school term of Computer Clubs for Girls is a case in point.

Dhaliwal also pointed to the work of Microsoft diversity manager Bronwyn Kunhardt in tackling the gender issue. While Kundhart has shown her commitment to the cause she is, by her own admission, charged mostly with addressing gender equality within Microsoft. The sub-contracted certified training regime and the army of certified engineers all fall through the net.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.