& cplSiteName &

Light Reading's 2017 Survey of Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas

For the technology industry, 2017 may very well be remembered for being an inflection point as it relates to women in the workforce. The year has already generated an unprecedented level of discussion, action and awareness around issues relating to discrimination, sexism and company cultures -- the effects of which are still playing out.

Women in the next-generation communications industry, a subset of the larger tech world focused on network operators and the companies that serve them, are feeling the effects of "Silicon Valley syndrome" as well:

  • 80% of women in comms have felt treated differently because of their gender
  • 80% have seen incidents of unconscious bias play out in their company
  • 58% think the industry has gotten better for women over the past 20 years
  • 60% think that their company does not have a problem with diversity and inclusion
  • though 74% would say the industry at large does

These results, from Light Reading's 2017 global survey of women in comms, illustrate the dichotomy that women in comms often face. The comms industry is an exciting space to be in, generally with interesting work, competitive pay and ample opportunity for advancement, but there are still a lot of challenges associated with being a female in what remains a male-dominated space.

This is the first time Light Reading has undertaken a survey like this, and we officially launched it at the end of April this year -- timing that was purposeful. It was a few months after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a memo on the interworkings of Uber that set the Internet on fire with discussion of the toxicity at the startup and other companies like it. It was also well after Elephant in the Valley, a survey of 200 senior women working in Silicon Valley, was published, painting a rather bleak picture for women in tech. (See Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims and Tales From the Valley: Bias, Sexism & Worse.)

We wanted to know if our niche of the world, the next-generation communications industry, was as bad as the tech world at large. Is it hard for women to advance in comms? Are toxic cultures, discrimination and sexual harassment the MO here as well?

These are some of the questions we set out to answer. More than anything, we also wanted to hear your personal stories of surviving, even thriving, in comms. And, you did not disappoint! We had a modest 160 women take our survey, but they came from all parts of the world, all levels of experience and many different companies and job functions. The results were illuminating, at times discouraging, but also hopeful about the future for our industry.

We admit that hindsight is 20/20, and there are questions we could've asked better to give you more room to tailor your response, but the results of our survey -- which we plan to replicate on an annual basis -- speaks volumes to where we've been, where we're going and how we will get there. By understanding the lay of the land, we can start to improve it. If nothing else, by quantifying the problems, the industry can no longer ignore them.

Against this backdrop, we've broken the survey into our respondents' demographics, perceptions, experiences and opinions. Make sure you read to the end where our survey takers also shared their anecdotal experiences and personal stories with us. Click on the table of contents below to read on.

[Ed. Note: Numbers were rounded off to the nearest whole number for clarity, so some totals will not equal exactly 100%.]

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Women in Comms Audio
Archived Audio
Twitter Feed
Women's Watercooler
Discussion Boards
October 24, 2017 7:10:11 AM
Better Online Communication Makes Organization Sense
May 9, 2017 11:13:04 AM
UN Women HeForShe
April 27, 2017 1:54:38 PM
Do you know women in tech?
Sarah Thomas
March 5, 2017 12:08:01 PM
Swedish Mansplaining
March 3, 2017 3:24:50 PM
Women's History Month
Sarah Thomas
February 24, 2017 12:15:59 PM
The career-break penalty
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 10:25:33 AM
Risk taking differences
Sarah Thomas
February 17, 2017 9:51:21 AM
Upcoming WiC Events!
Sarah Thomas
Contribute Here
Women in Comms Poll
WiC wants to hear your stories, experiences and impressions of the comms industry.

Take our short survey here!
AppDynamics highlights the tech segments where women are the most prevalent and showcases a few making a big difference in their field.
Women in Comms Video
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Skilled Women Can Fuel Tech Growth

12|4|17   |   04:36   |   (0) comments

LONDON, 12/4/2017 There are skill shortages in many emerging technology areas, such as artificial intelligence, notes Carolyn Dawson, managing director of the TMT unit for KNect 365, an Informa business. Attracting and training more women to the tech field will help the industry grow faster and better explore a broader range of possibilities. Dawson heads the ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Sigma's Michel: Digital Economy Demands Inclusion

11|28|17   |   10:46   |   (0) comments

In a digital economy, a company's success is based on its relationship with the end user and the experience that customer has in using a product or service, says Sigma Systems CTO Catherine Michel, speaking as a panelist at Light Reading's Women in Communications luncheon in London earlier this month. A male-dominated environment will miss out on key aspects of ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Equinix CMO: Embrace the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

11|22|17   |   05:45   |   (1) comment

DENVER -- The tech industry is a vibrant, fast-paced place to be, but the industry could benefit from institutional changes to support more diversity, says Equinix CMO Sara Baack. Recent scandals have brought to light the need for more diversity, and Baack hopes this increased visibility will be the impetus for lasting change. In leadership, Baack encourages her ...
LRTV Interviews
Sprint's McClendon Building for the Future, Learning From the Past

11|16|17   |   3:35   |   (0) comments

NEW YORK -- Sprint's Director of Technology Innovation & Architecture - Strategy, Planning and Development, Ginger McClendon, talks about how the future of network design will evolve with the advent of 5G and distributed architectures, while explaining the importance of learning from cellular surprises of the past.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Sprint's McClendon Trust Your Inner Voice

11|14|17   |   04:57   |   (1) comment

NEW YORK -- Sprint's Director of Technology Innovation & Architecture - Strategy, Planning and Development, Ginger McClendon, explains that while she's noticed more women at tech conferences, the telecom industry can still be a difficult place for women to break into and continues to have a culture of being cutthroat. McClendon discusses why listening to her inner ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Pace of Change Is the Biggest Challenge – Sigma CTO Michel

11|2|17   |   07:29   |   (0) comments

LONDON -- Sigma Systems works to help CSPs become digital service providers, and that means tracking not just technology but many other trends and expectations, says CTO Catherine Michel. The biggest challenge today is doing all of that at a much faster pace than ever before.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Sprint's Stark on Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

10|5|17   |   4:42   |   (1) comment

DENVER, 10/5/2017 Jill Stark, region president of enterprise sales for Sprint, shares her approach to leading a diverse team. In addition, Stark addresses the importance of seeking out mentors, and encourages women in the communications industry to take risks and step out of their comfort zone in order to meet their career goals.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Rehak on IoT Business Cases

9|26|17   |   04:14   |   (0) comments

LONDON, 9/26/2017 At the recent Digital Futures event in London, Alexandra Rehak, IoT practice head at research house Ovum, talks about the ways in which network operators could generate new revenues from IoT.
LRTV Interviews
How Cisco Works With UK Startups

9|21|17   |   03:25   |   (0) comments

LONDON, 9/21/2017 At Ovum's Digital Futures conference, Scot Gardner, CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland, explains how the networking giant is working with UK scale-ups.
LRTV Documentaries
Can a Government Fund the Next Silicon Valley?

9|12|17   |     |   (0) comments

New York is Silicon Alley. Israel? Silicon Wadi. And in Santiago, it's Chilecon Valley. Thirty years after the end of Pinochet's dictatorship, Chile has become one of South America's most vibrant economies. For the past six years, the government has given interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to entice startups to move to Santiago. Light Reading traveled to Chile ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMware VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment

It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMware.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment

Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.