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From 2008 to 2013, the percentage of female CIOs declined five percent, from 26% to 21%. There could be any number of reasons why the percentage of female CIOs declined.
One reason might be a finding from the TL research that showed a consistently smaller percentage of female TLs who are interested in becoming CIOs than their male counterparts. In addition, female CIOs were retiring faster than male CIOs. Another reason could be the widely reported gender disparity in degree-major technology disciplines. And it could be the fact that female TLs and CIOs were retiring sooner than the male TLs and CIOs.
Despite this list of bad news for gender parity in the higher education CIO ranks, there might be positive change on the horizon.
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The TL population is the supply pipeline for the higher-education CIO position. The graph below depicts four pieces of information: the percentage of female TLs, the percentage of female CIOs, the percentage of female CIOs planning to retire in the next 10 years, and the percentage of female TLs interested in becoming a CIO.
The percentage of TLs who are women has risen over the past five years from 33% to 40%. The percentage of female TLs who are interested in becoming a CIO, while low at 29% in 2013, has remained steady over the past three years. Another piece of good news is that the percentage of female CIOs who are planning on retirement in the next 10 years declined to a new low of 47% in 2013, and is no longer higher than their male counterparts. Despite these changes, the percentage of CIOs who are women continued to decline.
I took a deeper dive into the data in an attempt to determine if there were differences between the male and female TLs that are driving down the percentage of CIOs who are women. The CIOs and TLs in this research indicated that the two best ways to prepare for a CIO position were: using a mentor and on-the-job training (OJT).
There were some differences in gender for mentoring. Most notably, 45% of the male TLs used their own CIO as a mentor versus 34% of the female TLs. This significant difference in mentoring with a supervisor (CIO) may have an impact on the female TLs' opportunities and growth. Forty-one percent of the male TLs said no one was helping them, versus 32% of the female TLs. This will be a challenge for the male TLs as they try to prepare for the CIO role. The female TLs had higher percentages in every other mentoring category except "my peers," where there was an equal percentage of male and female TLs.
The individual's degree and major have also been important factors for the higher education CIO. The TLs are getting the message, as the percentage of TLs with advanced degrees continued to climb. The percentage of female TLs with advanced degrees was 74% versus 62% of the male TLs. This difference will have a negative impact on male TLs who aspire to the CIO role, especially when you consider that 95% of the institution management team (IMT), other VPs and presidents said that the higher education CIO should have an advanced degree.
In addition, 24% of the male TLs and 30% of the female TLs have bachelor's degrees, 1% of females and 7% of males have associate's degrees, and only 1% of the males and females have a high school or equivalent degree.
There was less consensus about what major a CIO should have. The majority of CIOs have degree majors from five areas -- technology, business, education, leadership/management and administration. The TLs also claimed the majority of their majors from these same five majors.
Seventy percent of the male TLs had these majors, versus 68% of the female TLs. The one major that stood out was technology, where 38% of the male TLs have a major versus 20% of the female TLs. This could be a significant difference, considering that 51% of the IMTs indicated a technology major was required for the CIO role.
Overall, there are differences between the TLs' genders that might have an impact on their ability to be competitive for a CIO position. The male TLs without an advanced degree will not be competitive for the CIO job, and more of them indicated they had no one helping them as a mentor. The differences in female TL mentoring by their own CIO, leadership OJT opportunities and the technology major could play a part in the continued downward trend for the percentage of CIOs who are women. There might also be a time delay between some of the positive trends seen in the research and a change in the percentage of CIOs who are women.
We'll continue to explore the subject over the next couple of years and look for changes. The CIO report and the accompanying technology leader report will be available from Center for Higher Education CIO Studies (CHECS) in late June.