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Why We Need More Women in Technology

SelectOne
Tue, Dec 22, 2015

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The tech industry has been long dominated by males, with women only representing an average of 30% of the industry. In 1984, 37% of all computer-science graduates were women. Today, this number is only 18%.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. In order to obtain gender equality in this field, women must fill half of these roles. So, what is the importance of closing this gap? Well, in a new study, more than 4,200 public companies reported that women with “strong female leadership” had a 36.4% greater return on equity over a five-and-a-half year period than companies without many women at the top of the organization.

So how can we make this possible?

Introduce the topic of Computer Science before college.
Many students are not exposed to the field of computer science and technology until their second year of college. By this time, students have completed their general requirements and are often under pressure to declare a major. Most are likely to pursue a degree with a familiar career path rather than with something new and foreign.
 
Introducing the tech industry as early as elementary school is crucial to closing the gender gap. This can be as simple as explaining the technology behind smartboards and school apps, having presentations from women in the industry about potential career paths, and letting older students try out coding though online programs (such as the ones outlined below).
 
Research says an average of 30% of students that are exposed to computer science will continue on in the field. This means that nearly 4.6 million girls will need to be exposed and interested in the tech field to close the industry gender gap by 2020. This makes it that much more important to expose young girls to careers in the tech industry. 
 
Create awareness and encouragement for women in technology through local organizations.
In Buffalo, we’re lucky enough to have several of these:
  • Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development. In addition to more formal classes, they offer a strong community that supports women of all backgrounds and technological goals.
  • 43 North is the world's largest business competition featuring some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs and startups from around the globe. While you won’t learn how to formally code or start your own business, the competition is great exposure to the excitement and opportunities surrounding the industry.
  • Buffalo Game Space is a place dedicated to helping people make games, by offering the educational, mentorship, and equipment resources to professionals and aspiring game developers.
  • Buffalo WordPress Meetup is for those who share an interest in WordPress. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, all are welcome to join the conversation about blogging, content management, design, and development.    
In addition, there are plenty of ways you can learn from home through online resources. Websites like Code Academy, Code School, and Coursera offer fun, affordable, and interactive lessons for people at all levels.
 
Be a mentor.

While there are no shortages of great female role models in the healthcare, science, and research industries, there is a definite lack of female mentorship available to women wanting to pursue careers in technology.

Having a mentor to navigate through tough times in school, a male dominated workplace, or career planning, can greatly benefit women (and everyone). We need more role models in this area to act as a positive influence and inspire interest in the tech industry.

In order for businesses to see more women pursuing technology they must be exposed to it long before college. It's critical to intoduce young women to STEM career opportunities and show them examples of the successes coming from women in technology careers in order for them to value a career in technology. Although these may seem like minor actions: mentorships, interactive technology classes, and online learning programs are all ways we can help make technology more attractive to women. However, we must not forget the most important learning experience is through illustrating the need for women and the positive impact they would have on transforming the tech world.  

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