Women in Tech: Seeing Is Believing

The gender gap in the technology industry is hardly a secret. Any one walking the halls of a tech conference will have to try not to notice the disproportionate ratio of men to women. And the abundance of organizations and non-profits focused on closing that gender gap highlight the need to do something about this disparity rather than waiting for time to close the gap on its own.
 
Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, believes that businesses need to be part of the solution and can do more to promote diversity, as she shared in a recent Harvard Business Review IdeaCast interview. To back up her assertion, she cited national statistics showing that even while women earn about half of all science and engineering degrees, they account for less than one-third of people employed in those fields.
 
Corporate hiring practices are only part of the problem. Culture, upbringing, and stereotypes are at play, too, Saujani said. “[W]e started creating the caricature of what it looked like to be a computer scientist and girls didn’t see themselves in it,” she said. She pointed to the character she calls the “brogrammer,” a stereotype popularized in films like Weird Science and Revenge of the Nerds from the ‘80s.
 
And when you ask girls what a computer scientist looks like, they say they picture “a dude with a hoodie sitting in a basement somewhere,” Saujani said. “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
 
This comment really struck a chord with me, and encompasses one of the big reasons I’m excited that we’re putting a spotlight on women at the upcoming Enterprise Connect Orlando conference and exhibition. If you can’t be what you can’t see, then let’s get some women IT professionals front and center!
 
Not only does our keynote lineup feature three women headliners, but we’ve put together a number of panels and networking opportunities focused on promoting the necessary dialogue around working toward a more inclusive and diverse industry.
 
One of the upcoming event functions that I’m most looking forward to is our Women in Communications Luncheon, taking place at noon on Monday, March 18. Not only will women have an excellent opportunity to network, but the luncheon will feature a panel of women IT professionals who are set to share their experiences in navigating careers in a male-dominated industry.
 
The panel comprises Erin Leary, end user services agile transformation leader at Boeing; Jeanne Spinosa, manager of telecommunications at Brown University; and Gauri Bhalerao, senior manager of collaboration, networking strategy, and engineering at Yum! Brands.
 
 
My hope is that by hearing how these women have overcome workplace challenges, attendees will walk away inspired to promote change in their own corners of the world.
 
The Women in Communications Luncheon at Enterprise Connect has limited seating and requires an RSVP. You can register here to attend and contribute to the discussion around how we can support women’s advancement in communications. (And if you’d like to share your experiences as a woman in IT with No Jitter, let us know!)
 
If you haven’t yet gotten your pass for Enterprise Connect, coming to Orlando, Fla., the week of March 18, you still have time! Register now with code NJPOSTS to get an extra $200 off!