Each week silicon.com is inundated with comments from you, our readers. The last seven days have seen discussion of the biggest issues in IT, and we kick off with feedback we received on the subject of women working in IT. --Foolish to ignore female labour pool
From: Virginia Wakely
This really gets my goat for goodness sake! The Government and the industry need to take a long hard look at the reasons why women (females) are not 'encouraged' to enter the IT industry.
For example, the DfEE needs to recognise that primary schools need more than one computer per school not per pupil. Also, the other end of the spectrum, why consider women are 'past it' when 40 and over! This is often the time when women are becoming child free, want to learn and can be a valuable asset to any business.
Serves the IT industry right for being so male oriented and blinkered!
--An IT meritocracy?
From: Matthew French
Of the women developers I have worked with, they have never been better or worse than their male counterparts. Although discrimination does happen, I have never worked with a woman who felt that her career options in IT were being limited because of her gender.
In fact, some of these female IT professionals have commented (to me) how they enjoy their occupation because they felt that they were being judged on merit and not sex.
Even those women who do decide to have children and stay home find that their skills are an advantage. The natural progression to doing consulting work and the shortage of skills mean that these women can work from home, and only when it is convenient to work. The only problem here is the high amount of pressure and the long hours, but that is an issue for any parent.
--Talent the key, not gender
From: Mark Harold
There simply aren't enough people in the country who are clever enough to do IT, male or female. You can't learn how to construct a good system, you have to have natural ability and drive like anything else. Most of the useful dominant males in IT are the ones who taught themselves at home whilst of school age. We didn't have a 1GHz P3 each, we had a BBC Micro and a Commodore 64 between 30 of us. Our interest was fed by our skill and natural talent, not tuition.
So train whoever you like, but the best will still be self-taught and cherry-picked and paid ridiculous salaries, just like anything else.
--Same job, different treatment
From: Eleanor Durrant
I am a woman, the network administrator, and I constantly find myself having to refuse to do routine administrative work or phone-answering, which it is not sensible for me to do, when I know I'm only being asked to do it because the executives think of it as Woman's Work.
A male network administrator is a sort of executive. A female network administrator is a sort of secretary. This is so even though (or even because?) the female might be the more professional, the more flexible, the less concerned with status, the one who's prepared to put the textbook on her desk and look it up when a new problem occurs.
I can deal with it, but it's annoying if I think about it too hard. I'm slightly depressed by all these policy-makers trying to attract girls to IT as a last resort, because there aren't enough men. They're not really trying to persuade girls that IT is interesting - they're just trying to persuade them that it's Woman`s Work.
--Family and the IT solution
From: Anna Rendall
Even if girls become fascinated with IT in large numbers, the advance will be a dubious one if women remain infinitely more likely than men to curtail their careers when starting a family. I suspect that the greatest rate of loss occurs in the middle echelons of skill and seniority, where responsibility is rising, babies are arriving, and job flexibility is being whittled away.
I remain confident the loss of women from IT can be reversed. No sector is better placed to encourage working from home, no sector more able to ensure that responsibility and knowledge are shared between employees. The IT sector is not unique in having difficulties in recruiting and retaining women, but it is uniquely placed to find solutions.
And then on Monday we brought you the story of government plans to protect us from the evils of the internet using an elite band of cybercops http://www.silicon.com/a
From: Ross Brown
Eighty cybercops. 20 million plus UK net-users. Mmmm. Not sure about this one. Will these people know anything about the technology in the first place? Will they know about civil law? Will they have a clue about the unwritten laws of the net? Or is it a kneejerk reaction to a perceived problem? Unfortunately my tenner's on it being the last one.
--A hard line approach
From: Nicola Parry
Even though it may be like King Canute holding back the tide, a little is better than nothing. Perhaps we should try 'virus' warfare on the germs that deliver this sick pornography into the UK. How many pervs would go back to a website that killed their hard drive?
From: Tim Wattis
I do think that the Goverment is right to make a start on this especially with the protection of children, but it's not how much you spend but how you spend it. Parents are often clueless about the internet and how to secure the computer for there children from the more dangerous and tasteless sites on the internet.
Most parents wouldn't allow their children to watch everything that is transmitted on the television networks that is why there is a 9:30pm watershed, with the internet being less regulated at the moment grater care should be taken.
--A waste of money
From: Haydn Rees
How is this a waste of money? Let me count the ways.
1) The police will either a) support this program by making it a lot better paid than your average constable, and part of a promotion fast track, b) have it evaporate with nothing to show for it.
2) It is not even the right order of magnitude of resources to address the issues. This makes it a significant waste of an insignificant amount of money.
3) Ten people with the right backgrounds could deliver a far higher quality intelligence product far cheaper, quicker, and more reliably than twice this many cyber-coppers, however expensively trained.
4) Their real problems will not come when they have to fight crime, but when they come to pool intelligence with other organisations to prevent duplication of effort.
You fight crime with well thought out legislation, a social contract, and properly-resourced investigation services.
--Neighbourhood watch on the internet
From: Peter Robinson
The police watch Crimewatch UK for leads - most of us find this incredible but unfortunately it's true. Now we see a move to police the internet - well as a professional and a parent I am only too happy to support this Perhaps they could use the thousands of 'little surfers' in a 'report the bad guys' scheme. I have seen unbelievable amounts of illegal and immoral things while supervising my son's surfing and there is unfortunately no way to report this at present.
--A final word
From: Mark Harold
You'll never make the new world run like the old. I can't wait for this generation to finally die off.