Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s a time to acknowledge how women’s positions have improved and where work still needs to happen. And the good news is it’s no longer a man’s world within the ICT community!
As access to education increases and rigid social norms regarding women fall away, women are taking a stronger stance within the ICT world. They are embracing roles as CEOs, leaders, and students like never before. Where are these changes happening?
1. Academics. The founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark, recently reported that a Computer Science course at UC Berkeley is now mostly female. Although this may seem like a small improvement, female Computer Science majors are also growing at both Stanford and Harvard by about 8% and 34% respectively. This could be the beginning of a new trend among young women.
2. The Workplace. ICT companies are becoming balanced between female and male positions, and often this parity is reflected in upper management, too. Kara Swisher, Founder and Co-executive Editor at Recode.net, recently said, “when the company has a female CEO…[it’s] almost a 50-50 split of female and male engineers.” Currently the ICT company Inveneo has a staff of 50% men and 50% women. Since its beginning, the company has almost always been co-managed or run by talented women including Kristin Peterson, Sybille Fleischmann, Jill Costello, Jossie Orense, and Kassia Echavarri-Queen.
3. Greater access to ICTs. Women in the developing world often don’t have access to ICTs, which limits their ability to enter the global economic market. This year the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) is addressing and playing close attention to these issues. The CSW is connected to the United Nations, and other significant and influential governmental players. While highlighting the need for greater ICT access, these powerful voices will be able to bring more women into the ICT community and emerging markets around the world. Intel’s Women and the Web reports that, hopefully, “progress can be accelerated to add 600 million new female Internet users within three years, rather than 450 million, which would double the number women and girls online.”
With all the progress, the United States still lags considerably behind compared to other countries. Ann Mei Chang, Mercy Corps’ Chief Innovation Officer, describes that Myanmar, Iran, Oman, and Saudi Arabia are actually the countries leading the way to educating women in computer science. With all our work to bring women into ICT in the United States, there’s still much more work left to do.
Let’s bring more women into ICT so that the new norm is balanced talent and collaboration between men and women. Let’s do that for ourselves, and let’s do that for the future of the ICT industry.
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