Universities, enterprises work to attract women to IT careers

October 6, 2014

One of the more troubling aspects of the tech world is the low number of women entering the field. IT jobs, in particular are not showing much appeal for young, educated women. A column in InformationWeek said some of the worry about this gender gap is warranted, but some of it is overblown.

Bad PR a factor
InformationWeek wrote that the stereotype of a group made up solely of men sitting around, staring at computer screens for 10 hours a day is one part of the negative image IT can have, especially when it comes to appealing to women as a career choice.

But the lure other fields such as biotech, clean energy and healthcare can have on young, STEM minded women can also be a large factor. These fields offer high pay and rewarding work in new and trendy industries. IT must find a way to show women technology can be just as fulfilling and rewarding as any of those other careers.

The University of New Hampshire is doing just that with its InterOperability Laboratory. Students, both male and female, can be hired at this highly competitive lab and work on a variety of science and technology projects. The female students there have learned that through the mentoring and encouragement they received at the lab, they will be well prepared for entering into the tech field post graduation. They reported that having a chance to work on some interesting projects without the still prominent yet unfortunate cultural expectation that women shouldn't try to enter a male-dominated field gave them a chance to fully explore their true interests and pursue a path that excited them.

Women in the IT workplace
Despite the fact that women make up over half of the workforce in the United States, their presence in the tech world is shrinking. This is a big problem, according to Network World. In the growing field of cloud computing 1.2 to 1.7 million jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of skilled employees.

The opportunity for employers here could be massive: women spend more time using online services than men, yet make up only 20 percent of programmers and 25 percent of IT managers. Intel sees this as a chance to improve their products and get more women involved in its cloud computing service development.

Intel has created the IT Cloud Computing Conference to encourage women to get involved in this sector of IT by making the workplace more accessible to the learning and working styles of women.