In a recent AWIT TechCast episode, Tracey Welson-Rossman, CMO at Chariot Solutions and founder of TechGirlz, and Cristina Greysman, partner strategy at Amazon Web Services, talk about how to get girls interested in tech and how to keep women engaged in the tech workforce.
In this tight labor market, adding women to the tech industry is less about adding diversity and more about filling the skills gap. Put another way: The tech industry has more than one million open positions and needs to put butts in seats.
“We need more women because we need more qualified tech workers. We need more technologists in the workforce — it should matter if they’re men or women or people of color,” said Welson-Rossman, a guest on the AWIT TechCast, talking with Greysman, a member of the CompTIA Advancing Women in Technology Community’s Executive Council. Listen to the whole episode here.
Throughout this episode of the AWIT TechCast, Welson-Rossman and Greysman talk about why relationships between women are so essential to keeping women in tech careers, alternatives to mentoring and why you must develop your personal board of directors.
Better Building Through Diversity
As women who have both been “the only woman in the room” throughout their careers, Welson-Rossman and Greysman are happy to see more women working in tech, and groups like CompTIA’s AWIT Community helping them form networks and friendships within the industry.
“Women leave because they feel isolated,” Greysman said. “Having a really strong support network is really important.”
The two see women opt out of the tech workforce for a lot of reasons; lack of appreciation, lack of upward mobility and lack of a career path. In this episode, they look at solutions to the problem and how companies can keep women engaged in the industry.
Teaching Girls About Tech
Part of getting more women in tech is about introducing girls to technology early on. Middle school is an important stepping stone to getting girls interested in tech for a lifetime, which is why TechGirlz zeroes in on that age group.
Welson-Rossman built a team to create TechGirlz eight years ago to help middle school girls get their hands-on technology in fun, creative ways at an age where opting out of technology is common.
“We wanted to create an environment that allowed them to feel comfortable learning that wasn’t just about coding,” she said.
She orchestrated a group to help her build short interactive TechShopz to give other people in the tech world the tools to be part of the solution. This spring, TechGirlz celebrated a big milestone; helping 10,000 girls get interested in technology.
“You’re reaching girls when they’re young and the way they want to be reached,” Martin Greysman said.
In the podcast, Welson-Rossman explains why middle school is such an important age for this type of intervention, and how she got interested in helping girls in Philadelphia and eventually across the country.
“We knew if we could get some of these girls to think differently, we could inspire them to keep going, to keep exploring,” she said.
Listen through the entire podcast to hear a list of actionable steps you can take to help girls and women feel like technology is a good place to find a career, from mentoring and sponsorships to check-ins and championing, and even how to get involved in your industry with groups like CompTIA.
If you’re looking for technology groups in your area that work with girls and women, check out www.AWITConnect.org. It’s a collection of women in tech groups around the world, in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and the U.S. Find a group that matches your interests, whether it’s robotics, Web design or advocacy.