IT Group Urges Girls to “Make Tech Her Story”
CompTIA set out to learn why girls show less interest in tech jobs than boys and what can be done about it. The research led to a new campaign to show girls what the wide landscape of tech careers looks like.
Women hold only 25 percent of technology jobs. CompTIA, an association that represents the information technology industry, wants to change that.
While women are underrepresented in the tech sector, employers trying to fill positions have had trouble finding enough suitable candidates regardless of gender. “There’s a huge gap between the number of job openings and the number of candidates,” and the problem will only get worse as baby boomers age, said Steven Ostrowski, director of CompTIA’s corporate communications.
CompTIA set out to understand why many girls don’t consider technology as a career option. It surveyed and conducted focus groups with boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17. Among the findings: 23 percent of girls and 47 percent of boys have considered an IT career, and girls’ interest in IT diminishes as they get older. Of girls who haven’t considered an IT career, 69 percent say it’s because they don’t know enough about what IT jobs involve.
“We as an industry haven’t done a good job of making it known what jobs are out there for young people,” Ostrowski said.
The “Make Tech Her Story” campaign aims to do better by appealing to tech industry leaders, educators, parents, and girls through different avenues. The Make Tech Her Story website features a video showing some of the research findings, including girls’ responses to questions about tech jobs, and an e-book explaining the problem and what needs to change.
CompTIA’s research found that “both boys and girls get involved in technology and use it, but for some reason, boys get more encouragement to do stuff with it,” Ostrowski noted. Girls’ use of technology “doesn’t translate into thinking about career opportunities.”
Technology classes haven’t helped much, either. “We found that girls who took technology courses in schools either didn’t feel like they fit in or didn’t get a lot out of them,” Ostrowski said.
So CompTIA hopes to encourage parents and educators to talk to girls about the wide range of tech careers they might be interested in, as well as encourage women in IT to serve as role models.
Girls need “people in business and industry who can articulate what their job is and why they like doing what they do,” Ostrowski said. A common misperception is that tech jobs mean “sitting in a corner all day writing code or waiting to get a call to fix someone’s computer,” but the career options are far broader than that—and broader than technology companies. “All industries use technology from day to day,” from education to healthcare, he said.
The campaign uses Rosie the Riveter as an icon to encourage girls and women to join the tech workforce—just as the icon encouraged women to join the workforce and the war effort during World War II. The Make Tech Her Story website allows visitors to customize and share their own Rosie the Riveter avatar.
CompTIA also is partnering with other organizations, including TechGirlz, to help people in tech jobs educate girls about the industry. Ostrowski said he hopes Make Tech Her Story will “serve as a spark to get members involved, through us or on their own.”