Advancing Women in Tech: One Tough Conversation at a Time

The CompTIA Community Advancing Women in Tech (AWIT) interest group is back—and ready to make change happen.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want something done, ask a woman.” And that action-oriented mindset is exactly what the new CompTIA Community Advancing Women in Tech (AWIT) interest group is channeling. Relaunched at the CompTIA Communities and Councils Forum (CCF) 2024, the AWIT interest group, composed of women and their allies within the CompTIA Community, is ready to engage in the tough conversations necessary to drive change in the technology industry.

At CCF 2024, a room full of people interested in being a part of these conversations gathered to get to work. They divided into groups to brainstorm ideas around how to best leverage social media to engage women of all ages, how to change current culture, how to leverage existing leadership and how women in technical roles and women in channel roles can support each other. Here are five questions considered and next steps discussed.

How Can We Get Women Interested in Tech Careers?

The fact is that many women don’t even consider technology as a career. We know that companies where women hold leadership positions are typically high-performing organizations, and that means that women are excellent in these roles – both technical and non-technical. But how do we drive awareness?

Part of the answer lies in how we use social media. The group discussed how to reach women in different stages of life. There are opportunities to connect with girls in middle school—an audience CompTIA Spark focuses on—and prospects in the form of high school students not interested or able to pursue a traditional four-year college degree, or recent college grads who are already looking for a career change outside of their degree. And then there’s a group of women who may be re-entering the workforce after having children or looking for more flexible, work-from-home arrangements. The possibilities are endless and how we reach these women with the message of what a tech career can offer will require some strategic planning.

How Can We Make Tech More Welcoming to Women?

Even with more of a focus on getting women into tech, STEM is a male-dominated field. How do we change that? When organizations hire women in technical and non-technical roles, how can we nurture them and ensure that company culture is supportive of their goals and moving them into more leadership positions?

We can’t make assumptions about what women want. But we can ask them – and that’s an important first step. Where can companies add value to women in order to recruit and retain top talent? If you have women on staff that aren’t moving up, what’s the problem? Are you providing the training and experiences they need to succeed? And if women aren’t even applying for the roles you’re hiring for – how can you cast a wider net to fix that? There’s certainly more questions than answers but being introspective and having these difficult conversations is key to driving change.

How Can Existing Leadership Help?

A huge component of successful change management is buy-in from your leadership – and that’s the case here as well. We have to use what we have to help us affect change. Allies of women in technology in leadership roles play in a huge part in company culture.

More than often, behaviors that discourage women in technology aren’t intentional – they just aren’t thought of. In order to change those behaviors, we need to shine a light on them and we need the help of senior leaders to make that happen. Let’s recognize and honor the organizations that are doing it right and highlight companies with gender parity at the highest level and show the business benefits.

How Can Women Support Each Other?

We talk a lot about women in technical roles and women in non-technical roles that work for tech companies. There is a clear definition between women in tech (WIT) and women in the channel (WIC). Each has very specific – and different – skill sets.

How can WIT and WIC support each other? The hope is that by matching people and developing relationships each group can learn something from the other. Skills like public speaking or giving presentations are beneficial to women in tech while learning some light tech education would conversely be beneficial to women in the channel. While we work to attract new talent to our industry and change the culture of the past, we should be actively supporting each other to help us achieve both our personal and professional goals.

How Can You Get Involved?

The new AWIT interest group is available in the CompTIA Community North America, UK & Ireland and Benelux. If you have ideas that will help us solve some of these issues, we want to hear from you! Ultimately, the group’s goal is to produce a white paper that provides guidance on how to hire and retain women talent in the technical and channel space – and the more ideas, the better.

CompTIA Community members can login to join the AWIT interest group within their regional group. The AWIT interest group has a variety of panels planned for the remainder of the year, including addressing equal pay in the tech sector, women entering STEM through education but not entering the workforce, women of color and their challenges and how WIC and WIT can support each other.

Women in Tech Share their Advice to Achieve Gender Equality, Success

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