Caterina Fake (founder of Flickr) posts over at Misbehaving.net: Women leaving tech jobs in droves.
I read the article that Caterina references and it is an interesting read:
The article is dead on… the IT industry (in my experience) has two types of men. With one type it doesn’t bother them at all that there is a woman in the next cube over and everyone they work with, no matter the gender, is treated the same (whether that is bad or good is not the point). The other type of men however won’t hardly address a woman, look one in the eyes, or it takes an exorbitant amount of time for that woman to earn the respect of that co-worker.
What I didn’t like about the article was the direct jab at the IT industry. I don’t think the problem is the industry – geeks aren’t bred to look down on women – but instead I think the issue is there are more men than women in the IT industry in the first place, thus increasing the ratio of male personality types. More men equal more chances to get personality types that look down on women. This isn’t limited to corporate culture, you know this exact thing happens with law enforcement, the fire department, the military, etc….
If you already start out naturally with more men, then part of those men don’t respect women the same as they do other men, then yes you will drive out the few women who were there to begin with. The issue isn’t with IT, it is with society.