Somehow, in my adventures through the land of technology, I haven’t let it get under my skin that Computer Technology is still a male dominated field (which I think is loosely defined as having 25% or less women). According to this great infographic published by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) women make up 26% of the computing workforce. I’m not sure if it’s luck, good karma, or my outlook on life as a whole that’s made it an enjoyable field to work in. I can’t lie. Yes I’ve been addressed as “sir” or part of “gentlemen” in an email salutation. Yes I’ve gotten blank stares from men who are introduced to me as being a Systems Administrator. And of course I’ve seen some of the sexism that radiates from some men that I’ve met throughout my career but I feel like a portion of those men would have that behavior no matter where they work or who they work for. That being said, I do believe that the culture that is developed in a company does have a great influence on how the women employed there are treated. I work for a healthcare company. Nursing is a highly woman dominated field, so we have a high percentage of women that work here. Maybe that’s why the culture where I work is such that women are respected on a level equal to men. And to top that off, I live in a part of the US that promotes equality. I feel blessed to be here. So maybe because of that it should be my duty to promote women in technology.
Coincidentally as I’m writing this, I received a newsletter from Tech Republic titled The top 8 companies for women in tech, as ranked by female employees. After reading this article (and many other articles I stumbled on while writing this blog post) I am reminded that people are talking about the subject of women in technology. That alone is a catalyst for change.
So then I wondered what type of resources are available to women in my town today? I attended college over 10 years ago so i’m sure things have changed. A quick search on the Internet resulted in few findings. Maybe it’s time that I get involved. Last year I sat in on a panel of information technology professionals at Olympic college to help answer real world questions that students might have. I’m not sure how impressed the students were with the panel but it felt great being able to express a little bit of my passion for technology and share some lessons learned. Our local community college (which is where I graduated from) recently had a Women in STEM Careers panel discussion. I’m a little bummed that they didn’t reach out to me considering I was on a similar panel last year. But as I read through the description it seemed it was more geared towards sciences and mathematics. There was a Women in STEM Town Hall in 2015 as well. I think I will reach out to OC and find out if they’re interested in more of a Computer Sciences panel for women. If I remember correctly, all of the people who organized the panel that I was on last year were women!
A couple of Seattle-based Women in IT organizations:
Microsoft DigiGirlz Camp
Seattle Girls in Tech
This year when I go to Cisco Live, I’ll be attending the Cisco Empowered Womens Network event. I got a taste of it when I attended CLUS 2015. I wasn’t able to attend the event that year but they had a session the next day titled Reinvigorate Your Career. It was great! Topics included office politics, salary negotiation, networking for the introverted and taking charge of your development. I remember leaving the session thinking, “Wow I can do this. I can reinvigorate my career!”. That session is actually what encouraged me to finally start my technical blog. I had been thinking about it for a year or so and that was what gave me the extra motivation that I needed.
I was explaining to a colleague of mine (she works in clinical informatics) that I was going to a women’s mini conference at Cisco Live. She said that when she attended Greenway’s ENGAGE conference that they had a session geared towards women. She said it was good and about an hour long. I mentioned that CEWN has a 4 hour event so I deem it as a mini conference. I started thinking to myself… How many women’s tech conferences are there out there? So I jumped on Google, typed in the keywords, women’s technology conference, and perused through the results. I was pleasantly surprised. Conferences range from super casual, uber formal and downright quirky.
Some of the blogs I ran across that touched on the same subject:
Women In Technology Conferences: The Ultimate Event Directory
Top 7 Must-Attend Conferences for Women in Technology
So I’m hoping that after attending the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network this year I leave even more pumped than ever! BUT… I don’t take for granted, my male peers. Sometimes I feel like I have the advantage because I’m a “minority” in the field. However, I work my butt off! So I don’t take myself for granted either!
My takeaway from this is that, there are areas of the USA that are lacking in motivation for women in technology and there are areas that are promoting and cheering them on. But no matter where you live, it’s all about how you truly feel about yourself, how you present yourself and how you treat those around you (even if they don’t treat you as you wish they would). Brains is only half the battle in many industries. You can be a master at a technology but if you don’t have the guts to prove it or the mannerism to collaborate and educate those that you work with then you may not get anywhere.
What are your experiences as woman in IT or a man who works with (or has observed) women in IT? What do you think most influences the change of culture in this area?