It’s not often that leaders and thinkers from corporate America, academia, startups and nonprofits join together to brainstorm on meaningful ways to advance women and girls in computing. But that’s exactly what the 2014 National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Summit was all about.
This year’s NCWIT summit in Newport Beach, Calif., celebrated its 10th birthday by recognizing significant and quantifiable accomplishments in increasing girls’ and women’s participation in computing. Several sessions focused on the power of technology to improve the quality of life in the developing world. Speakers included powerful women such as Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, and political strategist Donna Brazile. In addition, the imagination gap was identified as a significant challenge to more young girls pursuing education paths in computing. As the saying goes – “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and we need to tell stories of women with career paths that girls can relate to, so they benefit from role models who don’t only look like the founder of the most popular social networking site.
We know we need to plan ahead and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure the continued success of women in technology. And that will ensure a continuous source of top talent to meet our tech-hiring needs as we march towards 2020 and beyond.
At AT&T, we know that diversity yields greater success. We’re also aware that female talent in specialized areas of technology is in short supply. As noted at NCWIT, although women comprise 57 percent of undergraduate degree recipients, only 18 percent of computer and information science degree recipients are female. That’s not good enough. We know we need to plan ahead and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure the continued success of women in technology. And that will ensure a continuous source of top talent to meet our tech-hiring needs as we march towards 2020 and beyond.
Our engagement with NCWIT goes beyond membership in the Workforce Alliance, where we share best practices with other employers on ways to attract and advance women in our tech careers. Thaddeus Arroyo, AT&T’s chief information officer, sits on the NCWIT board and contributed to groundbreaking research on the role that male advocates play in the success of women technologists. We support the Aspirations in Computing program by awarding prizes to finalists and faculty and proudly sponsor the NCWIT Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. I am honored to co-chair the Affinity Group Alliance, which connects women’s employee resource groups at corporations as well as nonprofit organizations of all sizes that share our mission of advancing women and girls in IT.
We are proud to be an investment partner of NCWIT. NCWIT is unique because its conversations are based on multiple perspectives and informed by data and research. Its alliances represent thought leaders from universities, corporations and startups and seek input from K-12 teachers and influencers to extend our impact to the very beginning of the pipeline. Nonprofit affinity groups power a wide network of volunteers, and NCWIT’s social scientists pull together resources, tips, training and analysis that anyone can use. Really — it’s free! You can access all of it at http://ncwit.org and watch the recordings of the great sessions I attended.