In this past year, a lot has been discussed around the issues of increasing the number of women in STEM careers as well as the challenge of keeping women in those industries for the length of their careers.
With related research, discussions and organizational tools focused on overcoming existing and known obstacles as it relates to diverse teams, retention concerns, and women in tech leadership, we seem to be experiencing more acute attention in 2015 on solutions and best practices than in previous years.
- The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM, Joan C. Williamsog, March 24, 2015
- GoDaddy Reveals Gender Pay Gaps at Grace Hopper Celebration by Davey Alba Wired.com, October 14, 2015
- Cisco CEO: To achieve gender diversity in business, ‘men have to consciously lean in’ by Caroline Fairchildcom, March 5, 2015
- The best companies to work for if you’re a woman in tech by Molly Brown GeekWire.com, April 9, 2015
- 10 Actionable Ways to Actually Increase Diversity in Tech by Catherine Ashcraft FastCompany.com, January 26, 2015
The hope for 2016 is that this spotlighted focus will inspire corporate leaders to make adjustments to business as usual so that they ultimately create a more diverse thought-leadership team.
With all the related conversations highlighting the hurdles for Women in Tech around professional topics such as biases, culture, recruiting, pay, and opportunities it is refreshing to see some organizations and their leaders, primarily men, championing initiatives to advance and retain women, as there are true business benefits to thought-diversity at every level.
Some of the more notable discussions that illuminate the positive actions surfacing after years of misalignment of blame that questioned women’s’ level of desire, leadership and ability are refreshing:
- Top 10 Ways Managers Can Retain Technical Women, Produced by NCWIT’s Workforce Alliance in partnership with Mid-career Project Team (www.NCWIT.org)
- Thomson Reuters Boosts Retention of Women Technologists profiled on Anita Borg Institute (anitaborg.org)
In addition to the great corporate initiatives we have seen in 2015, many see the emerging programs and applications such as Minecraft as an inroad for more girls in tech and stem as highlighted in The Washington Post on April 27, 2015, by Drew Harwell in his article Minecraft is finally fixing its huge gender problem. Additionally, I am amazed and pleased at the number of fathers that reach out to me weekly, as they personally desire to create an inclusive workforce for their daughters; How Dads Can Pave a Path for Girls in Technology. The tide seems to be shifting and many are behind these changing waves for women in tech and beyond.
Amidst all this solution based discussions, what has truly resonated for me and will likely determine the success of these initiatives over the next decade is organizations that make women, in tech and related careers, a priority at all levels of the organizations. Not just getting them into college programs but hiring, retaining and growing them into highly productive professionals in engaging teams that create opportunities that include, incorporate and celebrate different opinions, approaches, and outcomes throughout the organization.
Without goals and related accountability, it is easy to make little to no progress in these areas as it relates to attracting, retaining and advancing women in tech within any organization.
My hope for 2016 circles around articles like the one posted TechCrunch on July 8, 2015, by Cat Zakrzewski that highlights the importance of the metrics, where you are starting and where you plan to go, related to your workforce in 2016 and beyond: The Diversity Report Gap: Without Specific Goals, No Accountability, is necessary for notable impact this year and years to come.
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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