A huge revolution is taking place in the technology industry, with women forming an increasing part of leadership and the entire tech workforce. Women see the change gaining momentum as we go into 2016.
I spoke to several leading women in technology to hear their perspectives on what comes next.
“ My hope for girls and women in tech in 2016 is that we continue to build and expand upon the current progress that has happened over the last three years ,” says Tracey Welson Rossman, founder of TechGirlz, a non-profit focused on getting more girls in technology studies through middle and high school.
Welson Rossman, who is also head of marketing at tech business Chariot Solutions, adds: “Having more companies, leaders, media, parents, teachers, girls and women understand the importance of training, teaching, encouraging and supporting girls and women in all aspects of innovation and technology will help move the needle faster and sooner.”
The Change Is Happening
Patience will be vital as the shift continues to a more gender-balanced tech classroom and tech workforce, she says. More and more women want to participate in the tech economy, given its multiple opportunities around coding, security, robotics, user experience and entepreneurship – evidenced in part by fast growth in annual events such as the Women in Tech Summit that takes place in several US cities.
A number of signs are looking particularly positive for 2016. Non-profit educational organization Girls Who Code has taught over 10,000 young women software coding skills and ensured over 20 large companies have pledged will share paid internships and other opportunities with its students.
Its founder, Reshma Saujani, tells me that the companies signing up to the ‘Hire Me’ pledge is “the surest sign yet that the sector is ready to close the gender gap in its workforce”.
At AT&T, one of the signatories to the pledge, executive director Stephanie Lynch-Habib says “the opportunity to improve results is driving greater interest” from girls and women to enter the industry.
“I hope and expect that 2016 will continue the amazing trajectory of women in technology coming to the forefront – helping to further chip away at the gender gap in the tech sector,” she adds. Positive forces driving the change “include grass-roots, girls-in-STEM initiatives, the amazing feats and examples of women tech leaders, and the proliferation of social media, mobile devices and now the Internet of Things.