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Women in Tech Leadership Profile: Skills, Job Roles and Certifications

March 06, 2020
Ryan Day

Women comprise 59% of the U.S. workforce but fill only 16% of tech jobs.1 For women in IT, advancing your career can be a challenge in itself. In the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, only eight percent of senior- and executive-level IT professionals are women.

We have pulled data from our research that sheds light on the job roles, skills, challenges, certifications and experience of women in tech who have progressed to the highest levels of an organization.


What job roles do they have?

The two most popular job functions for women in our IT Skills and Salary Report are IT compliance/audit and cybersecurity. So it makes sense that IT audit manager, risk manager and CISO/CSO/ISO are some of the more popular job roles among senior- and executive-level women in technology.

Of the 272 women we surveyed who are in senior-level roles or higher, nine percent are directors and over one-third work at companies of 5,000-plus employees.

Women CEOs make up one percent of our female respondent base.


Most popular IT job roles for women in tech leadership:

  1. Director
  2. IT Audit Manager
  3. Program Manager
  4. Risk Manager
  5. CISO / CSO / ISO
  6. IT Compliance Manager
  7. Security Consultant / Integrator
  8. Chief Information Officer
  9. Vice President
  10. Compliance Manager
  11. Programmer / Developer


What is their average career experience?

Compared to men, women have to work longer to climb the corporate ladder. The highest percentage of men in leadership roles have 15-20 years of experience, while the highest percentage of women have 26 or more years on the job.


Average career experience for women in tech leadership:

  • 26+ years – 27%
  • 16-20 years – 22%
  • 11-15 years – 17%
  • 21-25 years – 17%
  • 6-10 years – 14%
  • 1-5 years – 4%


How much do they earn?

The average IT salary worldwide, regardless of gender, was $89,732 last year. For all women in tech, that number drops to $84,755.
Women in senior or executive roles earn $113,243 annually — two percent more than their male counterparts.


What are their biggest workplace challenges?

More than half (57%) of women in leadership positions say that resource and budget constraints are their top challenges. While the same is true for men in similar roles, the percentage is less (44%).

One out of three senior and executive women cite cultural and generational dynamics as a major workplace challenge, compared to just one out of four men.

On the other hand, women in these positions tend to work better with supervisors and are more clear about organizational alignment than men, though they are slightly less clear about their own job roles and responsibilities.


Which certifications do they have?

Eighty-three percent of senior- and executive-level women in tech have at least one IT certification. Sixty-six percent hold two or more.

We saw a high number of survey respondents report that they hold at least one ISACA certification in the 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, so it’s no surprise that the most popular certifications skew toward auditing and cybersecurity.

ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) credential is the most popular among women in IT leadership positions — 17% have earned their CISA.

Share this: An area of enormous opportunity for women IT professionals is in cloud computing. According to our data, only three percent of women in tech work in cloud computing.

IT decision-makers tell us that cloud is their second most difficult hiring area. Cloud professionals are needed desperately, so someone who has validated cloud expertise will likely be in high demand.

AWS has two cloud certifications on our most-popular list, but cloud credentials are far outnumbered by cybersecurity certifications.


The most popular current certifications for women in tech leadership:

  1. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  2. ITIL® Foundation
  3. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  4. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  5. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
  6. Project Management Professional (PMP®)
  7. CompTIA Security+
  8. Certified ScrumMaster
  9. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  10. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
  11. Certified Ethical Hacker
  12. TOGAF 9.1


Which certifications are they pursuing?

To get an idea of what senior- and executive-level women are focused on, take a look at the IT certifications they plan to pursue this year. The aforementioned cloud hiring shortage takes center stage with AWS Certified Solutions Architect — both the associate and professional level — occupying spots in the top three most-pursued certifications.

Higher-level cybersecurity certifications are also highly pursued, with ISACA’s manager-level credential CISM and (ISC)2’s CISSP appearing in the top five. CISSP requires at least five years of relevant experience and has been equated to a master’s degree in cybersecurity.


The most-pursued IT certifications by women in tech leadership:

  1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
  4. AWS Certified Security – Specialty
  5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  6. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
  7. Project Management Professional (PMP®)
  8. ITIL® Foundation
  9. AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty
  10. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  11. Certified Information Privacy Professional/US


Share this: Find out what the most-pursued IT certifications by women in tech leadership are.



1. “Women in tech: The numbers don't add up.” CNET, May 6, 2015.


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