We’ve all heard the statistics: only 25% of technology professionals are women, there are not enough girls interested in STEM fields, and on and on. People talk about improving those statistics, but talk is just talk and I decided to do something about it.
As a Computer Information Systems major, I would walk into a classroom and be greeted by “You must be Bethany.” I would look around the room and notice one major difference between myself and my classmates: I was the only woman in the room. I felt like I was going back in time, but nope, it was, in fact, the 21st century.
Being the only woman in a male dominated field can have drawbacks, but talking to others who have been in the same situation only helped so much. That is why I started the Future Tech Women (FTW) group to empower the next generation of women technologists, working to drive awareness and advancement of women in STEM fields.
The group was originally started to pair female computer majors in college with young professionals in the technology sector.
The group meets monthly to discuss things that are not learned in college, such as how to professionally network and how to address the issues that come with being a woman in tech. People started to hear about FTW, and it has grown beyond what I had originally imagined. Two amazing women in tech at other New Hampshire-based companies reached out to me about what their vision of helping women in tech includes.
FTW is now using a three-pronged approach to make a difference in the technology sector in New Hampshire (and hopefully soon, the reach will grow even more).
Kelley Muir is heading up a division of FTW that will be focused on getting the younger girls (elementary and middle school) involved in technology and make them aware that technology is a great field to get into. Brenda Noiseux is heading up a division of FTW that focuses on having monthly meet-ups for industry professionals of any gender that want to help advocate and share their experiences. I will be focused on targeting college and high school students that have an interest in technology and want to make a career out of it.
You may be reading this asking yourself, “Why does this matter to me?”
I want you to take a minute and think about a girl in your life (a daughter, niece, sister, child of a friend, or neighbor) and think about what it would be like to be her in a world where the media is telling you that you can’t do things because you are a girl.
Now, I want you to take a minute out of your day and just talk to her. See what she wants to be when she grows up, ask her what she thinks about technology and the opportunities that are there. Also, think about the women that are in your life. Are you letting stereotypes shape your opinion of them? DON’T!
If you are a man or a woman in technology, listen to your female colleagues about what they are going through and be aware that your actions and comments can have an impact on whether they feel isolated and unwelcomed at work. Instead, when you walk by their hot pink desk in tech support, smile and ask how things are instead of rolling your eyes (and yes, I am the only woman in tech support at Dyn and yes, my desk is hot pink).
Learn more about FTW and get involved now!