IT Evangelism: Industry Group Promotes Opportunities for Women
Volunteers in a leading IT association plan to reach out to 10,000 people this year to promote and educate the public about the variety of job opportunities available to women in the IT field.
Women held more than half of the professional positions in the United States in 2011 but only about 25 percent of professional computing jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The CompTIA Advancing Women in IT Community is working to change that number. This year, it plans to reach 10,000 women, students, and prospective employers about the job opportunities available for women in IT.
“The number of women involved in IT has been declining over the last several years,” said Steven Ostrowski, a spokesperson for CompTIA. “That needs to change. [IT] jobs are available. The jobs are well-paying; the jobs have good career paths. So we think it’s a viable option for women and young women to look at IT as a career.”
Since forming in 2012, the volunteer-led group made up of a few hundred CompTIA members has produced promotional videos and a few meetings but wanted to reach more people and faster, Ostrowski said. So the group is working on the early stages of an “evangelism” platform.
“The next step will be to take the message and go out to colleges and universities and high schools, and maybe even down to the junior high school level, to fraternal organizations, sororities, scouting organizations, any type of group where women are exposed to information about career options,” he said. “The intent is to get in front of those audiences and tell them that are jobs available for men and women in the IT industry.”
The number of women graduating with computer science degrees decreased by more than 50 percent between 1985 and 2010, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
NCWIT also found that in 2012 just 20 percent of chief information officer positions at Fortune 500 companies were held by women.
Why are so few women reaching the top?
A recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 27 percent of women working in science, engineering, and technology industries in the United States feel stalled. The same study found that 46 percent of women working in these fields reported that senior management more readily sees men as “leadership material.”
There’s no shortage of IT jobs, though. NCWIT found that by 2020, an expected 1.4 million computer specialist jobs will be available in the United States.
That’s one of the biggest messages CompTIA evangelists will be promoting when talking with young women about career opportunities in the field, said Ostrowski, who added that the group will also be describing the wide variety of IT jobs available.
“You don’t have to sit there writing code all day,” he said. “You don’t have to sit in a back room fixing computers all day. There are a lot of ways you can combine a career in technology with an interest in another field.”