SWC Women in Technology Group Helps Create an Inclusive Tech Culture
Statistics show that about 74% of girls are very interested in science and math when they’re young, however, women hold only about 28% of computer science degrees. And while women make up 56% of the professional workforce, they only make up 25% within the tech industry. Additionally, within the tech industry, the quit rate is more than twice as high for women (41%) than it is for men (17%).
Something is happening to deter girls from pursuing STEM degrees and careers.
Recognizing this as a problem, we’re seeing a major culture shift in society to encourage girls and women in technology. Fantastic organizations like Girls Who Code, the Anita Borg Institute, and Girls in Tech offer resources to both young girls in their studies as well as women to advance their careers within STEM fields.
When Sr. VP Susie Cummings joined SWC in 2003, the company had around 40 total employees – only five were women.
We now have over 200 employees and women make up 25% of the company. We started to think about how we can proactively empower and support the women on our team and, more importantly, create an inclusive tech culture at SWC.
From this idea, the SWC Women in Technology (WIT) Group was born.
SWC WIT’s Mission
The group is designed to support women at SWC by offering individual mentorship, career advocacy, access to resources and promote female role models in an IT workplace. SWC WIT is open to anyone at SWC Technology Partners who supports its mission.
SWC WIT held our first meeting and the response was overwhelming – from both women and men who attended, as well as those who weren’t able to attend but wanted to participate in the future. Our first meeting centered around determining what was important to its members and next steps.
What’s Important to WIT:
- Action > Talk!
We have a very engaged group of people who are ready to DO, not just talk. Everyone agreed that projects should be actionable initiatives that make a measured impact.
- Building a Network
We discussed the importance of building a strong internal and external network of resources to help us meet our goals. We also created a virtual SWC WIT Group on Yammer as a place to share updates, ideas and resources from anywhere, at any time.
It’s a buzzword, so we discussed exactly what workplace empowerment means to us overall, and talked about specific ways SWC WIT can empower its members. Investing in all of its team members is an important part of SWC’s culture. The group was interested in professional training opportunities, like public speaking, role-playing through scenarios, and developing a professional presence.
- Making an Difference
A common theme that was repeated again and again was that we wanted to make an impact. Whether it’s in our roles within SWC, in the WIT group, or in the lives of girls in a philanthropic capacity, we wanted to make a tangible, positive difference.
- Visibility and Mentorship
The group recognizes the importance of having female role models in business and technology. Giving women the opportunity to take the lead in projects and recognizing the work they do both encourages them individually, but also puts the spotlight on them as role models for more junior team members of any gender.
- Quarterly Meetings
We’ll meet quarterly to discuss initiatives and projects. Being a self-driven group, individuals will have the opportunity to develop and lead and contribute to multiple projects at the same time.
- Strengths Workshop
To begin, we’ve developed a three-part quarterly workshop to identify and capitalize on individual strengths. We’ll create action plans to apply this to day-to-day work situations and indoctrinate practice so that utilizing our strengths becomes second-nature.
- Lightning Talks
Often our best resources are right next to us! Lightning talks are five-minute presentations on relevant topics of the speaker’s choice. These talks educate and spark conversations as well as give valuable public speaking and leadership opportunities to WIT members.
- Philanthropic initiatives
We also want to impact others outside of SWC. We’ll choose an organization to support in different capacities as we grow, like Alain Locke Charter School and other STEM-focused organizations.
We’re already seeing change in society as a whole as the conversations around women in STEM fields continue. The STEM educational toy industry has exploded, making it cool for girls to love science. We’re learning to compliment little girls with “You’re a good problem solver!” instead of just “You’re so pretty.” All of this encourages girls to pursue their interest in STEM fields, and today more women are majoring in engineering than ever before.
SWC wants to do its part by building an inclusive tech culture and empower and advocate for our female team members. The women and men of SWC WIT have brought an energy that has invigorated everyone, and we’re excited about the progress we’re already making in 2018! Stay tuned!
If you’re interested in joining our team, check out our open positions on our Careers page and apply today!