& 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%.]

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
2/2/2018 | 7:39:43 AM
Very interesting
Women in Comms Audio
Archived Audio
Twitter Feed
Women's Watercooler
Discussion Boards
December 22, 2017 3:58:57 PM
UN Women HeForShe
October 24, 2017 7:10:11 AM
Better Online Communication Makes Organization Sense
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
Upcoming Live Events
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
All Upcoming Live Events
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
LRTV Interviews
MWC 2018: Ovum IDs the IoT Hotspots

2|13|18   |   06:53   |   (2) comments

Ovum's Head of IoT, Alexandra Rehak, uncovers the hot IoT topics for MWC, including LPWAN commercialization, use cases for 5G, the use of artificial intelligence in IoT deployments and more.
Shades of Ray
It's Time to Enter the Leading Lights

2|9|18   |   01:03   |   (0) comments

If your company excelled during the past year, you need to be submitting your entry for this year's Leading Lights awards. Get the full details by clicking on this link.
LRTV Interviews
MWC 2018: Facing the Millennial Challenge

2|7|18   |   03:39   |   (0) comments

Ovum analyst Camille Mendler explains why the tech and mobile industries need to focus on delivering enterprise solutions that can be understood and used by anyone as the millennial generation begins to comprise the majority of the workforce.
LRTV Documentaries
What They Should Be Talking About at Davos

1|25|18   |   01:54   |   (0) comments

World leaders, billionaire business execs and tech industry leaders are at Davos for the World Economic Forum. Unfortunately for them, we couldn't make it, but, as Dan Allen contends, two important news stories from Spain this week demonstrated the growing tech-jobs disconnect now common the world over and highlighted what those at the forum should be ...
LRTV Documentaries
Cisco at CES: Creating the Self-Managing Network

1|16|18   |   05:44   |   (0) comments

Forget the self-driving car, Cisco is aiming for the self-managed network – one where machine learning and automation propel both innovation and efficiency. At CES, Cisco SVP and GM of the service provider business Yvette Kanouff talks about how operators can transition toward more automated operations, and also why the annual consumer electronics show is ...
LRTV Interviews
What Cable's Ethernet Gains Mean

12|21|17   |     |   (0) comments

NEW YORK, 11/30/2017 – Vertical Systems Research Director Erin Dunne examines the impact of cable's continuing share gains in the Ethernet services market and entrance into the SD-WAN market.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Boingo & Sprint: Take Challenges Head-On

12|20|17   |   07:49   |   (0) comments

PRAGUE -- Lauren de la Fuente, vice president of marketing and communications at Boingo Wireless, and Terri Reintjes, director of architecture strategy at Sprint, reflect on how their experience as women in the telecom industry has changed over the last 30 years and where there's still room for improvement -- whether it's in supporting more diverse teams or ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Skilled Women Can Fuel Tech Growth

12|4|17   |   04:36   |   (1) comment

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 ...