I have been an industry analyst for close to 20 years, and run capioIT for eight. I have met hundreds of Industry Analysts and Analyst Relations professionals. Some have been newcomers to the industry; others had the experience 20 years ago that I have now. I’ve made close friends on both the analyst and the Analyst Relations and client-side. In short, it has been an enjoyable and fulfilling career journey. I thought it worth taking time to look at an issue that has grown over the last 20 years — gender diversity.
In the Asia Pacific region, we have an excellent record of diversity from a country perspective. Great analysts come from anywhere, India, China, Australia, Korea it doesn’t matter.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for gender. While there are excellent female analysts, the industry is the Asia Pacific region, and in other markets, most notably, North America is dominated by males. Of course, there are great female analysts in every market, but there is a distinct under-representation. IDC is perhaps the strongest, globally and in the Asia Pacific region, in part reflecting their broader levels of experience from an analyst perspective. The numbers are significantly worse for independent analyst firms. Intermedium is the only independent analyst firm led and founded by a female in the Asia Pacific region; globally, there is only a small number.
The contrast with analyst relations professionals is incredibly stark. My reading of the top 10 AR programs in the Asia Pacific region, females lead eight. While not as dominant globally, a lot of highly rated programs such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Informatica are led by women.
The questions are, of course, does it matter, and how to improve it.
Yes. It matters. The status quo cannot remain.
As to why, in discussion with the industry, I believe there are contributing factors. The lack of female participation in STEM training, employment and the overall technology sector is a problem that runs more profound than the Industry Analyst profession. We are not immune. This will drive a gender imbalance. Actions to increase female participation in STEM and related fields have had mixed results, although it will take perhaps a generation to be markedly and consistently successful.
Not all analysts come from a computer science or STEM background. I certainly didn’t. The source roles and skills of the industry analyst are diverse. A significant source of analysts of all genders includes professions such as journalism and communications, as well as market research, all-female friendly industries.
Market and customer-facing analysts have to travel. It is a professional fact of life. Travel requirements are an issue that is critical for many women, particularly those with children. I know first hand given my travel schedule that this is not a female-only issue. Due to societal expectations, it is more pronounced for the majority of women than men. The further challenge in Asia is that the distances, especially from India, New Zealand and Australia are substantial.
Outside of the STEM and travel issue, there is no clear structural reason as to why we have fewer female analysts. It would be great to get some feedback on this. I sincerely believe that industry is far from misogynistic, so there is no deep flaw in that regard. If you accept that a stronger gender balance is right from an analyst perspective, then we need to work in objective and subjective ways to get more balance. The more diversity we have, the better we are as an industry and profession.
Females are successful in Analyst Relations. Unfortunately, this has not migrated across to the actual Analyst role as much as it could. We need more female-led, and female-founded analyst firms to help drive further diversity in insight, capability and temperament. It is for the benefit of the entire industry.