It's no secret that the technology industry is suffering a skills shortage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT will add nearly 1.4 million job openings by 2020, and over two-thirds of these jobs could go unfilled due to a shortage of college graduates with computing-related degrees. It's also no secret that women are vastly under-represented in technology.
Encouraging the skills and career development for women in technology does more than create a larger workforce. Studies have shown that teams with greater diversity are more creative than homogenous teams. They solve complex problems better and faster, thereby improving innovation and increasing business performance. There are financial benefits as well. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, companies with the highest representation of women on their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment than those with few or no women.
While there are plenty of jobs available and companies are increasingly recognizing the benefits of diversifying their workforces, breaking into technology isn't necessarily easy. Luckily, a number of resources are available to help women progress through the various stages of their careers -- from the stay-at-home mom looking to rejoin the workforce, to girls in high school and college, to the technology professional who is working her way up the career ladder.
"Most technical women aren’t in organizations large enough to form internal support groups, which only intensifies the isolation we feel. So it becomes critical for us to find encouragement using other avenues," wrote Michele Chubirka, an Interop speaker and Network Computing contributor, in 3 Survival Tips For Women In IT. The Interop conference is one venue; the conference actively recruits women speakers and promotes gender diversity through special programs.
But the opportunities for women to connect are many. As part of our "Top In Tech" series, we recognize the following 10 organizations that provide a wealth of resources to help women in technology and help companies benefit from a diversified workforce.
Cover image: Interop Las Vegas 2015 Women in Technology Panel
Anita Borg Institute (ABI) seeks to help women in computing reach their career goals by providing opportunities to learn, network with other women and stay inspired. Founded in 1994 as the Institute for Women in Technology by Dr. Anita Borg, ABI was renamed in her honor in 2003. The website offers a number of useful resources for both women and companies diversifying their workforce, including a career board (no registration is required), tips for recruiting and retaining women technologists, and an email forum with over 5,500 members. ABI also organizes events, including the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which is the world's largest technical conference for women in computing.
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit community that seeks to increase the number of women working in computing and technology. Consisting of more than 600 universities, companies, non-profits and government organizations nationwide, NCWIT primarily offers resources for "change leaders" who influence the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in IT. NCWIT's programs include Pacesetters, which helps organizations quickly increase their number of women technicians, and Counselors for Computing, which provides school counselors with information and resources they can use to guide students toward education and careers in computing.
Women Who Code (WWCode) is a US-based "non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers." The professional community has several key initiatives. For women technologists it provides free technical training on programming languages, professional networking opportunities, career and leadership development opportunities and hack nights. WWCode also helps companies navigate the hiring process and adopt best practices to become inclusive workplaces. Since its inception in 2011, WWCode has grown to exceed 25,000 members and has held more than 1,200 free technical events around the world.
Women in Technology International (WITI) is a trade association for women who use technology in any job function, including finance, human resources, marketing, management, sales and, of course, IT. Started in 1989, WITI claims to be the first organization to recognize the role of technology in helping women advance in their careers. Its mission is to help women to "achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and economic prosperity." WITI provides career services, research, small business programs, national conferences and regional events, and networking opportunities. Men are encouraged to join WITI, and they are included in the organization's programming efforts.
TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The professional mentorship and exchange program was developed under President Obama to help strengthen relations between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa. TechWomen seeks to help women in those countries advance their careers and pursue their dreams in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It does so through a five-week program in which emerging women leaders in STEM from Africa and the Middle East engage in project-based mentorships at companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. The program also includes professional development workshops, networking events and a trip to Washington, D.C.
STEMinist was created in 2010 by Ann Hoang, a software developer, to increase the visibility of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By doing so, Hoang hopes to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM and "capture a social media snapshot of what's trending for women in STEM." The website aggregates and features stories about women in STEM and has a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Society of Women Engineers (SWE) was formed in 1950 by a group of more than 60 women engineers and engineering students "to develop their abilities, to give expression to their potential, to contribute to society." SWE is a membership organization focused on issues of interest to women working in engineering and technology fields. The organization has more than 30,000 members and offers a variety of opportunities, including networking, and education and development. The society's quarterly magazine, SWE Magazine, is accessible to members and nonmembers, and features resources on personal and career development.
Women Who Tech was started "to bring together talented and renowned women breaking new ground in technology who use their tech savvy skills to transform the world and inspire change." The organization currently focuses on helping women startups get access to funding, since according to the organization, 93% of investor money goes to startups founded by men. Women Who Tech offers three programs to help women pitch their startups to investors and get their startups funded. The TeleSummits feature speakers who share insights on funding a startup. The Women Startup Challenge is a pitch competition in which 12 finalists showcase their ventures, and the Women Startup Database is a database of women-led startups.
MotherCoders' mission is to "create a more inclusive economy by on-ramping moms to careers in technology." The organization's tech orientation program directly addresses the challenges that prevent many moms from gaining the technical skills required to thrive in the new economy; namely, childcare, work or financial constraints. The tech orientation program includes a curriculum that emphasizes basic computer programming and web design, along with networking opportunities, industry knowledge building, onsite childcare and Saturday classes. The program runs for eight weeks in San Francisco, Calif.
Interop is taking concrete steps to address the gender divide, including actively seeking out female speakers, offering leadership sessions on diversity, and developing networking events for women in IT. See some of the opportunities for and by women in Interop Challenges IT Gender Gap.
"Diverse talent is a key tenet of business success," said Interop General Manager Jennifer Jessup. "We're proud to serve as a proponent for the diversity movement in our tech community and will confront the challenges within employees' career development and managements' talent search in an open forum."
If you are a woman technologist and would like to be involved in Interop, please contact content lead Susan Fogarty for more information.
Image: Jennifer Jessup, Interop General Manager, and Lynn LeBlanc, CEO of HotLink, share experiences at Interop.
- Crystal Bedell
- Connect Directly
11 Top Resources For Women in Technology
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