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Battle of the sexes: Who makes a better CIO?

Yuga Chaudhari, Principal Correspondent
Mark Twain said that the only time a woman can change a man is when he is a baby. That was a long time back. Now the twain has met, with drawn daggers. Women believe they can be better CIOs, men won't give them the nod.

The debate over which gender makes a smarter leader has found a new platform: technology, which is predominantly dominated by men. Can women effectively resolve technical issues of an organization? Are women really fit to handle the position of a CIO? With more and more women CIOs entering this field, the question is getting more serious: who is better?

To get the fairer side of the story, we decided to approach Niloufer N Vazifdar, general manager for internal audit and IT at Forbes and Company, who has been handling various IT departments for 10 years. Vazifdar feels that women can become better CIOs as compared to men. "The role of a CIO is not just limited to technology, but about management and I think women are better managers," insists Vazifdar.

Vazifdar lists out the following five reasons behind why she thinks women can make better CIOs.

Art of multi-tasking:

Women have ability to multi-task. They have a good practice doing it in the non-work environment. This ability is crucial for the new- generation CIO who not just handles technology, but also manages the team and deals with management.

Coordinating skills:

I feel that ladies are good at organizing things and co-ordination. This skill

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is very important for a CIO, especially while dealing with different vendors, partners and IT projects.

Learning is an important part of any CIO's job role. Women are better learners, as their Intelligence Quotient is higher than men.
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IQ:

Learning is an important part of any CIO's job role. I feel women are better learners, as their Intelligence Quotient is higher than men.

Team builders:

Women are more empathetic and tolerant. These are the two important qualities while building and handling a team.

Detailing:

Women are good at detailing. They are painstaking and pay more attention to details while drawing a company's technology roadmap.

However, Sanjeev Kumar, the CIO of Polygenta Technologies puts his point across by sharing his own five pointers on why men make better CIOs. "My 20 years of experience tells me that men can handle pressure in a better way as compared to women," says Kumar. "Due to this reason, we do not come across too many women who take up the C-level jobs."

C-level suite:

The C-level suite is still dominated by men. There are very few women as leaders.

Chemistry with the board:

People dynamics is different at the board level, and I think the gentleman CIO can fit well in this environment by having better chemistry with the board. A CIO can be a successful change agent only if he has a good chemistry with the board.

Mental toughness:

The job of a CIO is all about mental toughness and one has to take harsh decisions at this level. While a few lady candidates can take harsh decisions, this quality is not very common in ladies at higher levels. The basic nature of a woman is to be very soft while addressing the team. In business, you have to take harsh decisions, and mental toughness is extremely crucial.

Right balance:

Men can more easily balance the head and heart. They can keep emotions aside and manage family pressures well.

Restrictions:

Women have restrictions when it comes to aspects like long working hours and family pressures. In a changing management scenario, one has to put in extra effort to actually bring out a change in the organization.

While both CIO categories might disagree with each other, they definitely agree to the fact that women get less opportunities to serve at a C-level position. "How many of us groom our daughters to become C-level leaders?" asks Kumar. "However, a change is slowly taking place now," he points out. "While lady CIOs do not lack in terms of capabilities, the opportunities are definitely lesser."