Invisible Glass Ceilings

We’ve made so much progress in this world for women but I can tell you there are still glass ceilings.  Today’s glass ceilings are less obvious, you can miss them if you aren’t paying attention.

At my company I head up the IT Department.  My title is not CIO but Director.  I make the decisions and have the responsibility of a CIO but I am Director.  This could be due to the fact that I’ve grown into the position.  I wasn’t picked out of a crowd and asked to head up IT at a company that was already flourishing and expansive.  I started as the first IT person and now we have a team of 6.  But I do believe if I was a man the thought might cross the mind of someone in power that their IT Director is really a CIO.  This doesn’t bother me much.  I feel lucky to have this job that I love and to have been given a chance to make a success of myself and my department.

But I notice that even though I’m in charge of IT for the company I’m left out of some key events.  Recently we had managers  in from out of town, all male, for operations review meetings.  I was not asked to be a part of those meetings and didn’t know they were happening until they were already in progress.  In today’s world IT is pervasive into every facet of most companies including operations.  I had requested the last time to be included.  I expressed that I have things to say to these managers, that I want to hear what they have to say about IT, I want to hear we can do better for them, I want to tell them about things we are working on.  I don’t have many opportunities to communicate with them face to face.  I wasn’t invited.  I realize I’ve been busy due to staffing issues but it wasn’t even mentioned.

Instead I hear about IT items afterwards and have to interpret second and third hand information.  They all go out to dinner and I’m not invited to that even.  I’m different.  I’m not one of the boys.  In fact it turned out that I ended up at the same restaurant as this group one night.  The VP of HR came over to say hello and said it was ‘a boy’s night’.  Great.  Thanks for confirming that for me.

Its not as if I’m not doing a good job.  I’m treated well, rewarded financially, told that they are happy with my results.  I’m sent to important presentations with customers and potential customers to handle IT questions.  I do believe I am the token woman at some of these meetings, a part of the diversity that they hope to project.  I’m told that they hope to use IT to drive the company forward.  It would seem IT would be included in these meetings then.

I was hired by a woman 8 years ago.  Then the highest ranking woman, now that would be me.  I was included in these meetings and outings then.  But I’ve since come to learn that it was due to her.  I haven’t been included since she left.  Perhaps its the new male bosses I’ve had not the ownership.  I’m not sure.  But it would seem you would want your IT department represented at these meetings.

I don’t think this exclusion is conscious.  I think men and women are different.  We think differently, we have different experiences that form who we are, we are raised differently by parents with good intentions.  So no I don’t feel discriminated against.  I don’t feel I’m excluded because I’m a woman.  I think its because I’m different and always will be.

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