When I first entered the world of information technology in 1993, the industry was growing by triple digits. “Women in IT” wasn’t really a thing. The issue of “women in IT” was likely born out of the fact that there were almost no women in this field in the early 90’s. Women were (and still are) underrepresented compared to our male counterparts in most high tech fields and in most technology companies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population and 59 percent of the U.S. labor force.
When it comes to women at tech companies, the numbers vary. An article published on CNET in May 2015 indicated that at many of the largest tech companies, women make up under 30 percent of the workforce.( That clearly does not align with the 59 percent Census figure. As you move up the ladder in corporate tech America, you will more often than not see an even lower percentage of women in technical roles and senior leadership roles. I know that women belong in and thrive in IT. However, the ratio of women to men in IT is still off balance.
Develop Talent — Regardless of Gender
I know that if a company really wants to position itself for long-term sustainable success and growth, then it needs to embrace the development and advancement of top talent — regardless of gender. I happen to work for a company that actively promotes the development and advancement of all coworkers. In fact, CDW has a stronger percentage of women reporting to the CEO than the most Fortune 500 companies.
I love my career in IT and I love working in an industry that is relevant to nearly every facet of the world —whether it be farming, healthcare, education, athletics, retail, etc.
I started my career as a technical sales person. With a background in sales and communications, I didn’t know much about IT, but I certainly had an appetite and desire to work in this booming field. I knew early on that technology was a catalyst to enable best-in-class performance and results for the corporate and public sector. Having the commitment to stay in IT was pivotal to my growth and success as a professional. I attribute much of that commitment (though sometimes I was the only woman on a team or group) to mentors and support along the way. We might see more women in IT today if the support and mentorship opportunities were consistent and pervasive.
Joining CDW in 1994, the company offered me training on technology as well as continuing education opportunities. In a matter of months, I grew increasingly tech savvy and over time I became knowledgeable as an IT sales consultant. I could design a basic network and recommend what storage drives and memory to add to a desktop or notebook. In 2016 — 23 years later— I still wouldn’t call myself a technologist, but I do identify as a woman in IT. Lucky me! I am a vice president of a technical sales force at a Fortune 500 company.
Growth, Advancement and Opportunity
As luck would have it, I have found a field and a career that has allowed me to have continued growth, advancement and opportunity. When I entered college in 1988, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. But I am certain growth, advancement and opportunity were all ideal scenarios for my career of choice.
I am inspired daily about what IT does to compel and move the world forward. As a mother of two middle-school girls, I’m acutely aware of how valuable it is for young girls to be excited about technology. I often spend time promoting their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) so they can aspire to be anything they want to be. Young girls should know that they will gain advantages by understanding technology and its impact on the world. Talented people who pursue careers in IT are certain to have a future filled with growth, advancement and opportunity.
Being a woman in IT is just one way to describe me. Most importantly I’m a professional in arguably the world’s most relevant field —technology.