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Female CIOs winning bigger budget increases than male IT chiefs

Women IT chiefs expect their budget to increase by 2.4 percent this year, while men expect a paltry 0.8 percent rise, according to analyst Gartner.

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Gartner fellow Tina Nunno: "It seems that women just tell a better story." Image: Gartner

For the second year in a row, Gartner's annual look at tech spending reveals that female CIOs expect to have more success at increasing their IT budgets this year than their male counterparts.

While male CIOs expect an increase of less than one percent (0.8 percent), female tech chiefs expect to see their budgets go up by a healthier 2.4 percent.

The worldwide survey included responses from 2,810 CIOs, representing more than $397bn in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries; 13.6 percent of respondents were women.

Analyst Gartner attributed this to the face that the female CIOs were more concerned about underinvestment in risk initiatives than male CIOs.

"The risk data, combined with budget numbers, may indicate that female CIOs are more focused on the resource side of the digital equation than their male peers and are, therefore, requesting and accumulating more IT budget money," it said.

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Gartner added that this underlines the fact that "a significant majority of CIOs of both genders believe that the digital world is creating new and additional risks in their environment".

Risk is the big issue, the analyst believes. According to the research, female CIOs are more attuned to risk than male IT chiefs.

"Female CIOs are significantly more likely to express concern that investments in risk management and risk management practices are not keeping up with new and higher levels of risk in a more digital world," said the research. Seventy-six percent of female CIOs expressed this concern about risk investments as opposed to 67 percent of male heads of IT.

The analyst in charge of the research, Gartner fellow Tina Nunno, said this is part of the reason that women are more successful than men at getting approval for large budgets. "It seems that women just tell a better story," said Nunno. This is true regardless of whether the female CIO is reporting into a male or female boss, a CFO or a CEO, Nunno said.

"The research took all those variables into account," said Nunno.

According to the data, reporting structure impacts the budgets of male CIOs more significantly than female CIOs. When male CIOs report to the CEO, they report a budget increase of 2.8 percent, but their budgets remain essentially flat in all other reporting relationships with the exception of the COO, where a slight negative budget trend appears.

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In contrast, female CIOs expect to receive budget increases regardless of reporting line. Even when reporting to the CFO, generally considered the toughest exec from whom to receive a budget rise, female CIOs saw an average uptick of 3.2 percent.

"For good or bad, women and men view the top priorities virtually identically," said Nunno. "Variations in top priorities by gender in past CIO surveys could often be attributed to significant differences in the industries where male and female CIOs worked. However, more recent data shows little difference in the gender dispersion of CIOs across industries, which may account for the consistency in prioritisation."

When questioned about technology leadership, the survey found that female CIOs are more in agreement that "analytics are increasing in importance for their enterprises". Also, women IT chiefs are 10 percent more likely to agree strongly that there is a shift from backward-looking reporting to forward-looking analytics.

The full results of the Gartner research are available on the company website.

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