Ten years ago, as a rookie reporter, I penned several articles profiling female IT professionals and the job landscape in which they operated.
Women in high-level positions were still somewhat of a novelty back then, and because there were only that many of them around, the same group of executives would be featured regularly.
As the years progressed, stories about glass ceiling and gender gaps in the IT industry continued to pepper the media scene. Any time a female IT professional was featured in an interview, the same set of questions would inevitably pop up...
Do you feel you're treated differently from your male colleagues? Is it tough climbing the career ladder in a male-dominated industry? Do you think you're being paid lower than someone of a similar rank? Have you ever felt you were passed over for a promotion that was eventually offered to a male colleague?
And the answers that came back were also mostly always the same...that there were no glass ceilings, men and women were paid no differently, and they felt just like "one of the boys".
At one point, one top-level female executive sighed and said wearily: "There really is no significant difference. And two years down the road, these gender-related questions will be irrelevant and no one will be asking them anymore."
It's been over four years since, and today, discussion on gender differences and questions about women's role in IT continue to make headlines.
In fact, an article just last month highlighted a 20 percent pay gap between male and female tech workers in the United Kingdom.
Some industry watchers attribute the disparity to a lack of women specializing in more technical roles, which tend to pay higher. Women, it seems, are put off by "stupid" male geek culture, according to inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee.
He said: "It's a complex problem--we find bias against women by women. There are bits of male geek culture and engineer culture that are stupid. They should realize that they could be alienating people who are smarter and better engineers."
Berners-Lee recalled how an academic, who underwent a sex change, submitted the same papers under both identities and found the papers were accepted from a man but were rejected when they came from a woman.
Stupid or not, if the male geek culture is indeed discouraging intelligent individuals--women or otherwise--from joining the IT industry, that's going to have a serious impact on technology innovation in future.
In fact, the geeky IT stereotype has become such a problem that the European Commission earlier this month said it's establishing a code of best practice for female technologists in a bid to convince women that IT isn't boring or too technical.
Asia would do well to follow suit.