dieStandard.at:What are the main problems, that women have to face in the labour-market, and especially in the field of IT? Juliet Webster: I think, that the main problem across all sectors, and cetrainly in the It-sector, is the issue of working-time. Maybe it isn´t what you might expect – we might expect it to be more related to women´s poorer qualifications. But in fact it seems to me, the thing, that holds women back from progressing in the labour market, is the way of which companies and public sector-organisations organize their working time. And that means, that most women find, they can only go so and so far in their jobs, and then they have to start making very difficult decisions. And in the IT-field that´s even worse, because the IT-industry is organized with very specific forms of working time, like projects, intense working time, special arrangements, night-shifts, things that really don´t fit very well with the reality of most women´s life, because of having the main responsibility for their families. dieStandard.at: Do you think, that the „next generation“, the young women, have the same disadvantages or do they already have better chances because of their (automatically) better qualifications? Juliet Webster: It assumes, that if women have better qualifications, they will progress - to some extend, that´s true. But the problem doesn´t so much lie with the individual woman and the actions thay take, but more with the way in which organisations try to organize their work and their approach to flexibility. dieStandard.at: So women in their twenties don´t necessarily have easier access than the generation of women before them? Juliet Webster: Well, if we talk about Internet-related-jobs, some women do get access to those kind of jobs, because they do them as a start-up-company, like in Internet-Design and those kind of things. And that again is really only for women who don´t have domestic responsibilities, because it tends to be project work. That´s fine if you´re young and flexible, but when your life becomes a bit more embedded, it becomes harder to maintain this kind of work. So there are women coming into new forms of IT-world, but sadly there´s not much evidence, that they are doing much better than their fore-mothers, in terms of the kind of work they do and the working-conditions and the prospects. dieStandard.at: What can women themselves do to get into better qualified jobs? Juliet Webster: That´s difficult to answer, because the nature of the jobs is changing so rapidly. We´re talking about very many organisations which are not hierarchical as they used to be, and don´t have great progression-pass in the way they used to have – even in this situations women did not do very well, but now things are much more flexible organisationally and the way in which companies recruit and promote unqualified people are changing. I would say that qualifications give some evidence to show, that IT-companies, particularly small ones, like Internet-Start-ups, don´t really value qualifications any more so much as experience and certain other skills, like being able to work with clients. So it´s not so much the qualified jobs, that are important – what women have to do is to acquire the skills, that are valued. And then we come to another question, which is, how women´s skills are valued. Women´s skills are often not valued, simply because of the fact, that they are held by women. Every time when women acquire new skills, they get devalued – the work itself, before done by men, gets downgraded and the status, the jobs had, disappeared. dieStandard.at: How are the women affected by the latest developments in information technology? Juliet Webster: When I´m thinking of the latest developments, I´m thinking of women being related in jobs like Multimedia-jobs, netdesign, graphic-design. Women are starting to get into that kind of work, as I already mentioned – often in small StartUp-Companies. And that´s the problem I think, that often there´s a lot of turnover with these jobs – the labour market is quite volatile – but often the jobs are quite casual, so people tend to be working on contracts for bigger companies, as subcontractors, as freelancers, often working out of their garages or in their front- or bedrooms – their income can be erratic and I guess apart from the experience, that´s to be gained, the labour-market-prospects of these jobs are not wonderful. And women are tending not to work in the creative parts of the jobs, but to be concentrated in the administrative area. dieStandard.at: What about male-dominated jobs? What can women do to penetrate these markets? Juliet Webster: Maybe we shouldn´t see this as a solution, to get women into male-dominated jobs. There´s a lot of argument about this among people who are concerned with women´s position in IT: Is it the answer just to get women into senior jobs, or should we try to change the nature of the jobs themselves? I agree with the latter position – it´s not so much getting women in, it´s more changing the culture of the work. It´s not always desirable for women to get into male-dominated jobs, partly because it can be painful to work as a woman in these jobs. Sometimes it´s exciting, but it can also be quite painful personally to be a pioneer. But the other issue is, that when women enter these jobs in more numbers, they often get downgraded, so all the privileges, that went with these jobs, then disappear. So it´s not such a wonderful catch sometimes. dieStandard.at: Is there a big difference in the problems for women in the labour market mentioned in your abstract, between the US and Europe? Yes, women have done rather better in the US – in Europe I know the UK best, and in IT women make up 13% of UK-IT-jobs – in the US it´s 28%, but it´s nothing like the proportion of women in the labourmarket as a whole, which is in the UK 46% and in the US 48%. That´s fifty-fifty, but women´s representation in IT-work doesn´t reflect their representation in the labourmarket. There is still a massive underrepresentation of women. dieStandard.at: “Training is becoming shorter”: Do women in less qualified jobs have any chance to get out of them, when they don´t get any training from the enterprises and can´t afford individual trainings? Juliet Webster: I think, the women in less-qualified jobs who don´t get training, are stuck. It´s up to the employers to provide training, but also to provide learning support and learning opportunities, so that women can take some responsibilities for their own skill development too. And the next thing, that is what is critical and often doesn´t happen, is, that companies must link training to employee-development and to personal progression and this often means planning the two together and appraise in employees, what new skills have they acquired, what training have they done, what new responsibilities have they taken, where would they like to go to next. And that means managers and employers sit together and work up plans for their employees-development, which often doesn´t happen – particularly in less qualified work. It´s often assumed, that women are in less qualified work, because they don´t really want any other work, they are not very interested and they are going to leave anyway. And there are at all too many examples of employers, that actually assume, that women will not be interested in being trained, even before they get married or have families, so the assumption is, they are not gonna need training and so even before maternity sets in and even before they can show even a sign of leaving the labour-market, they are excluded from training. dieStandard.at: Are women as often likely to take responsibility for their own skill development as men? And do they do it as frequently? Juliet Webster: I think, they are as likely, but there is the problem of affording to train – for example to require IT-skills outside of work on Training-courses. Those things are expensive and they are difficult to do. And I think the obstacles sometimes to women are, that the training is often offered to times and places that are not really convenient. So taking up the training opportunities to improve their skills can be a problem. And again, I think, that the responsibility lies very heavily upon the training organisations and on the employers. If they then begin to offer training and courses, that women can access easily, then maybe we might see some changes. It´s a change of thinking that´s required, an awareness of the different needs of the different groups of employees for training. dieStandard.at: What about the employers: Aren´t there any female bosses or consulters who have the chance to change something for women in the managements of the big enterprises ? And which ways should they go? Juliet Webster: I think there are some instances. The female executive officer of Hewlett Packard, is a good example: There, they are very well aware of the need of rethinking the organisation of work – maybe this comes from the fact that the CEO is a woman. I wouldn´t like to assume that just pushing women in the management positions will change company behaviour, because there is a lot of pressure on those women as managers – they can be just as male as male managers in their ways of working. But I think, certainly, when you have women you maybe have more chance within the company of getting them to adopt the Equality plans, which might include a whole loft of measures. What thy should do – I think there is probably no One-single-solution like better training or better working time arrangements, I think there are a lot of different solutions put together, that make the difference. More successful is in companies to implement very comprehensive equality-plans, where they start to think about of the issues as being interrelated. But there is still a long way to go – the equality plans are not awfully successful – but they are also much better than nothing. It´s up to the big enterprises, because they have the resources. dieStandard.at: What do you suggest employers and employees to “come together” and start into a better situation on the labourmarket? And: is there a chance to reach the aims on both sides? Juliet Webster: Up to until a few weeks ago I would have said, I was fairly optimistic, that they could collaborate, come together to a social dialogue through kind of partnerships and try to develop better practices – which at least is a start. I do worry now, that with this sort of threatened world we´re in now, that maybe women´s equality will suffer. It may be that those priorities will slip, because other interests get more important for the companies – as we´re already feeling, for example, large scale redundancies in the Airline-industry and in the IT-industry, the tourist industry and all the related industries. And in that kind of environments, I think, it becomes much harder for companies. (Juliet Webster was intervieweed by Isabella Lechner.)