Believe it or not, a report by Accenture showed that “the proportion of women working in tech is now smaller, at 32%, than it was in 1984, at 35%.”
In 1983, while I was an undergraduate student at UCLA, I worked part-time as a computer programmer for a defense contractor in the aerospace industry. I was the only programmer in our small department who was a woman. We were part of a much larger engineering department, made up of electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers. Still, out of over 100 positions, there were only about five women in these technical roles in that entire department! I realized I wasn’t going to get ahead in that male-oriented world very easily, so I decided to leave to become a teacher. As a teacher, I knew I could encourage young girls to get into STEM fields.
In 1988, when I had made the switch from computer programmer to teacher, the education field was dominated by women, but most of the leadership roles were held by men. Although this is still the case, it is slowly changing, now about 71% of superintendents are men, as compared to 75% in 2010, based on superintendent demographics. After four years in the classroom, I left to help develop curriculum for a company that offered technology classes to students. We offered everything from keyboarding to robotics.
In 1995, I moved into edtech sales, as a sales engineer, where I was the product and curriculum expert. I soon moved into sales and have since held a variety of leadership roles at for-profit and non-profit ed-tech organizations. Throughout my career, I have seen how the tech culture is very male-oriented and many women still do not find their company culture empowering. A report by Accenture showed that only 21% of women in tech jobs say it “is easy for women to thrive in tech.” After years in tech, it is disappointing that we are still not getting enough women into tech jobs.
Where do we go from here:
We need to start inspiring girls at a young age to get interested in technology fields. By empowering them with the skills they need to be successful, we will give them the confidence to continue to engage in more advanced technology classes & careers as they get older. This interest can start in the classroom, as early as elementary school. Learning.com has curriculum starting as early as pre-kindergarten!
Making STEM activities social. Girls are especially engaged in social activities from a young age. Normalizing gaming and coding for girls, like it is for boys, gives girls a chance to develop interest in STEM fields while they are still young.
Utilize female and minority mentors. Exposing boys and girls to women and minorities in tech will let them see themselves in the field. Don’t forget about the contributions of women like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Mary Jackson!
Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Theresa has more than 25 years of experience in senior positions in both the education and education technology fields. With degrees in both economics and educational leadership, she has provided innovative sales management, business development, and strategic planning experience to impact the future of the education industry.
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