back to article Datacenters still a boys' club, staffing shortages may change that

Datacenter operators' investments in inclusion and diversity have done little to shift the balance of workers in the historically male-dominated field, an Uptime Institute report found. Three quarters of datacenters surveyed by the analyst group said women make up roughly 10 percent of their workforce, while a fifth of …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    "The increased confidence may be the result of high-profile advances around generative AI, like ChatGPT, Bing Chat, and other large language models."

    Show me an AI that will get up at 2am, drive to the data center in the rain to pull a host and fix a loose RAID controller card on a production system. Bing? Wouldn't use it to organize my laundry.

    I don't care what race, gender or orientation you are. Show up reliably and be capable to work and you'll have a job. I encourage women to apply for these roles as well as anyone else with an interest.

  2. SUDO-SU

    Maybe women don't want to work at data centers? Maybe women don't want to be on call to fix outages at night?

    What a garbage headline.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Also women won't lift "heavy" equipment and are always asking "the boys" to do it for them!

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        I've said for many years, "Women's rights lasts only until the heavy listing starts!"

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Heavy lifting

          It's a pretty narrow band, as the recommended limits for single person handling are 25kg male and 16kg female. But potatoes are one thing and servers are another, so I think I'd recommend dual or mechanically assisted handling for anything over 20kg anyway, further reducing the male advantage. I also wouldn't want to be rejecting male applicants for the role on the basis that they didn't look strong enough.

          Having said that, I do personally know a TA who is built like Turok ...

          1. Ozzard

            1U servers are right in the zone...

            Taking a random 1U box (a Dell R640), it's 21kg - under the male recommended limit, over the female recommended limit. Most 1U servers are likely in that zone, which might make Elfin Safety nervous.

            We do dual lifts anyway, as rotating rust doesn't bounce very well if you drop the box 2 metres onto the floor.

            Best server admin I know is female, by the way.

            1. Bruce Ordway

              Re: 1U servers are right in the zone...

              >>21kg - under the male recommended limit, over the female recommended limit.

              FWIW... the USPS (postal) delivery person serving my neighborhood is a woman.

              Last fall I saw her delivering a big package & later asked what the limit is for USPS workers.

              She informed me the limit is 70 pounds (approx 31.75 KG ) which surprised me... if I remember, typical warehouse jobs in my area only require ability to lift 50 LBs.

              As for my attitude, I've been approx. 80% pro when working with or being supervised by a woman.

              20% con nothing to do with gender... I just couldn't stand a couple individuals.

              (and they couldn't stand me either).

              Since (as far as I know), nobody gets along with everyone.

              So in that respect I will consider myself "average" until proven otherwise.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: 1U servers are right in the zone...

                The thing that hurts women most in IT is the terrible women bosses. We've all come across them - they can't hack it at the coal face and because noone wants to sack a woman from STEM they end up managing the team and getting in everones way. If they were men they would have been binned long ago.

                The best manager Ive ever had was a woman though. Very smart, funny, glamorous, trusted her team - and played the male managers like fiddles.

    2. DonL

      Exactly, women rarely care about computers

      But it's OK, other occupations have the exact opposite ratio (lots of women, very few men).

      I think we should just accept it.

      1. rcxb Silver badge

        I disagree. I believe we should force women into male dominated positions to shore-up the numbers.

        Software development, clergy, antenna tower climbing, farming, sanitation work, Alaskan crab fishermen, construction, firefighters, etc.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          And snooker! they should all be made to play snooker! (currently 100~% male dominated)

          after all theres no male-muscle advantage to the sport and you get to dress up all nice

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            >And snooker! they should all be made to play snooker! (currently 100~% male dominated)

            I'd never thought about that ratio before, but you are absolutely right.

            A nice pretty girl, in a tight skirt, leaning over a snooker table. Brilliant idea.

            Would definitely increase the sports popularity, particularly among beer drinking young and middle aged men.

          2. rcxb Silver badge

            Snooker? I only just met her!

        2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Also in order to abolish the "gender pay gap" ( ie: the "women taking a career break to have and raise children pay gap" ) we must ban women from raising their own children.

        3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          HEAR HEAR! MAKE those women take those jobs! Line them up at gunpoint! You'll either be a data center technician or worm food! Here's a book on Linux, memorize and understand it by next week or else! You've got the pager this week young lady, and if you miss a callout it's off to prison for you!

          If women wanted these jobs, they'd be getting these jobs. My industry is the same kind of sausagefest, all meat and practically no buns. The company I work for now prides themselves on inclusiveness and even with that sort of preference, it's still almost an all male revue. The few ladies we do have do a great job, some of them even better than me and I've been doing it decades. It's not like they're incapable of doing the work when it's all keyboard surfing. Women in general just don't like doing that sort of work. The only real problem here is in trying to force them to take these jobs they very clearly don't want.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Pop into HR and see how inclusive and gender-balanced it is...

    3. Brett Weaver

      A "boys" club?

      The headline implies that there is a filter on membership of the "club". Its fashionable to assert that every underrepresented minority is that way because the Pale, Male and Stale people somehow caused this.

      In IT I am pretty sure this has never been the case. If it was, then with the positive actions being taken by businesses we would lately see more minorities involved in IT professions.

      In my experience we have less women, in particular, in software development and technical team leading than we did in the middle of the 1980's.

      An observation about the 1970's and 1980's: Because no one had an IT degree, and degrees were more optional, aptitude tests were made available to all staff who thought they might want to "go into computers". Those that did well were offered positions in Data Processing.

      Yes, the data entry operators (Punchgirls!) were mainly women, but programmers and systems analysts could be anyone and were a pretty good mix.

    4. tooltalk

      I worked as a datacenter monkey when I was an intern and in my early career eons ago. These jobs gradually phased out as most companies now co-located their datacenter/servers miles away from their offices, especially after the 9/11 -- in the US, for instancebanks/financial institutions are required to host their datacenter at least 50 miles away from their offices + additional DR sites, under SEC rules. Most mid/small tech companies moved away from running their own on-premise DC due to their cost and overhead, as AWS became a popular alternative.

      These are hardly glorious jobs that lead to better career or economic safety. This is roughly equvailent to plumbing which ironically is also dominated by male,

      So why is theRegister peddling this nonsensical "boy's club" narrative?

  3. nautica Silver badge

    Why'd you do that?

    "Maybe women don't want to work at data centers? Maybe women don't want to be on call to fix outages at night?

    What a garbage headline."

    Was going to up-vote you because of the first two sentences. Then I realized that the up-vote would also apply to the last sentence. are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolutely correct with your first two sentences. Perhaps we male, I-can-fix-anything types (and do it, a lot of times, for free), are the dumb ones in situations such as this...and this one fact goes a considerable distance in explaining the headline.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Why'd you do that?

      Dumb? No. Its what we're paid to do. ILOs, iDRACs, networked PDUs, and VPNSs have decreased the number of midnight drives significantly. Add VMs for application redundancy and you no longer have to leave the house at 2am and you can open a case with your hardware vendor for 9am service.

  4. cornetman Silver badge

    > According to analysts, hiring more women could help to address staffing shortages, which it projects are only going to get worse over the next few years.

    > "A growing number of unfilled positions coupled with a low and stagnating proportion of women workers suggests the datacenter industry still has much work to leverage the untapped potential of the female workforce," the report reads.

    It's a bit of a weird conclusion to draw unless they think that they would be more likely to hire women than men.

    Otherwise, why wouldn't you just try to hire more men *or* women?

    1. NeilPost

      … and perhaps just lay them more and they would not get poached.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I tried that and got into trouble with HR and her husband...

  5. ChoHag Silver badge

    It doesn't matter that you can get away with paying women less for the same work, data centre operators know how important a tool the penis is when it comes to server wrangling.

    That's why they don't generally hire women. How could anyone ever hope to rack a server without a penis? And I for one have never laid a cable without keeping my penis with me, close at hand for when the need arises.

    It's certainly not because they don't want to do that work. Self-determination? Agency? Choosing not to hang around with jerks? These are not qualities you will find in a woman.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      It doesn't matter that you can get away with paying women less for the same work

      No you can't. That's illegal.

  6. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    It'd be nice if the article explained what exactly a "Datacentre operator" is , or are we supposed to know that as I.T. people?

    Sounds bery specializsed.

    I think most of us have worked on racks of servers but as part of a larger set of reposibilities - like what those servers are doing.

    How many racks / geographic seperation before a server room becomes a deata center ?

    If you are purely "datacenter" , you cant be reponsible for everything the servers are doing surely?

    Are they just hardware monkeys changing raid cards?

    Is data migration / database expertise required ?

    Do you need electrical certification?

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Apologies for atrocious spelling / grammar / formatting, I was rushing to a meeting while posting that.

  7. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

    Woman and technology are like oil and water

    I've known 3 women in my 30 years in IT that I would consider high level professionals, that you could count on the produce.

    All the other were either those who never rise above their current position (i.e. service desk), we just ride-alongs, or they rose into technologically clueless management.

    I am sure there are plenty of awesome women in technology out there, but the percentage compared to the general population is just low!


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My wife and I could do this without arguing ...

    ... about the aircon.

    She can work in the hot aisles, I'll do the cold (Unless she's having a hot flush in which case we'll swap over).

  9. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

    Is it lying to imply that sexism is behind women choosing not to work in data centres rather than women choosing to do other jobs?

    I think it is.

  10. Youvegottobe Joking

    I've worked in DC's for ~25 years, first as a QA tester and for ~19 years as a field service engineer for one of the largest companies selling equipment into data centers. In that entire period I have worked with 2 women (out of ~130 people). Neither lasted more than a year or two, the reason they gave for moving to desk jobs were pretty much already mentioned in these comments, they did not want to be out on their own at night and the could not handle the weights.

    Things have gotten really heavy in DC's, for example big switches (MDS-9718 - chassis only without fans or psu's = 125Kg) and blade servers (a recent one I installed was ~70Kg empty)

    If I do see a female in DC's its usually back office or management.

  11. martinusher Silver badge

    Maybe its just demographics

    There was an article recently -- in the Grauniad, of all places -- that matched the appearance in the media of various ethnic groups with the actual statistics in the UK population. Maybe its the fear of being perceived as discriminating but non-whites are vastly over-represented in everyday media compared to their actual numbers in the population. Although the same statistics can't be applied to gender the fact is that despite years -- decades -- of trying its still approximately the same percentage of girls/women that go for technical careers as there always was. (My wife was a physics/math teacher for her entire working life and so was involved in numerous initiatives dating back to the 1970s.) Its also true that due to cultural reasons -- women are better at F2F interactions -- those women who do choose technical careers are often sucked into lucrative marketing and support roles that use these talents as well as their technical smarts. There are exceptions, obviously, but typically in my working life its relatively few women in engineering. Those that do work at the coalface tend to be very good indeed and are highly valued.

    Women do seem to be over represented in HR, legal, accounting, sales, and management.

  12. DevOpsTimothyC

    Lack of Women

    a boys' club would imply that the DCO's are quite selective with their hiring processes, however the following would imply the opposite.

    And when datacenters can find staff, they're having an equally hard time keeping them. According to Uptime, 42 percent of datacenter operators said they were having trouble retaining staff, in part because they're being poached by competitors.

    Still I do wonder what the other part of not retaining staff is. Could it be the noisy working conditions and heavy lifting? Could the poached by competitors imply that wages aren't all that good compared to that of an Instagram model ?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "hiring more women could help to address staffing shortages"

    Stupid conclusion: There's no pool to hire from. See Comp Sci students in *any* university and if you find a female there, she's an oddity. 1 out of 50. Or 100.

    That has been the norm since such studies existed. And you do not learn stuff you need to know if you're an English major, sorry.

    Same thing in many other areas too .. and same stupidity there. You can't hire qualified people if they don't exist in the first place.

    Ever tried to hire a male nurse? Same reason, which Institute of course doesn't recognize. Or admit.

    1. Cheshire Cat

      The shortage of women in datacentres and programming is like the shortage of men in HR, kindergarten teachers, nursing, general practice, and so on. We all know they can do the job, and there are examples of people proving just that, but the fact is that proportionately fewer want to enter the profession and go through all the required training. You don't see them in those professions because they are less interested than the other gender.

      People seem to get far more upset about the lack of females in IT than the lack of male GPs and nurses.

      Of course there are some industries that have places where they would rather hire nobody than hire a female (construction and auto mechanics come to mind) but I've never seen that in any IT place I've worked.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Why on earth would you be doing a degree to progress into a job as an IT labourer? Conversely, WTH are employers recruiting their IT labourers from the pool of people with degrees?

  14. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    And in other news, waste collection is mostly a boy's club, road mending is mostly a boy's club, sewege gonging is mostly a boy's club. When are we going to get women forced into these jobs to socially engineer gender equality?

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