According to the latest reports from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women comprise more than half of the professional workforce ever since 2003. Yet, they represent about one-quarter of the computing workforce. In the face of these discouraging statistics, what can be done about the gender gap? Are there programs to help women get jobs in information technology?
The main reasons women quit their jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields are structural barriers such as:
- Unconscious bias
- Promotion processes
- Supervisory relationships
- Competing life responsibilities
Women often experience a ‘stall’ in their careers. A ‘stall’ means that an individual is no longer getting promoted, receiving additional responsibilities, or otherwise progressing in their career. Across STEM careers, women of all races have reported feeling stalled.
To change this around and boost women in technology, countless organizations have put out programs and resources to help women get into IT. The most important ones are highlighted in this post.
- Anita Borg Institute
In 1997, Anita Borg founded what was initially known as the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT). It is a nonprofit organization with the purpose of increasing the representation of women in technology. “Women need to assume their rightful place at the table creating the technology of the future,” Anita Borg had declared.
In 2003, after Anita passed away due to cancer, the Institute was renamed the Anita Borg Institute. This organization offers award programs for distinguished women technologists, access to communities of women in computing, events, scholarships, information, and resources, and PITCHER.
PITCHER of PitchHER is an annual competition where female entrepreneurs can apply to receive funding for their ideas. The competition supports both nonprofit and for-profit startups, as long as they meet the necessary criteria.
The Anita Borg Institute provides year-round growth opportunities for women to build professional skills, find mentors, inspire one another, and gain recognition for their work and accomplishments across all tech fields.
- Black Girls Code
If women make up around 25% of the total computing workforce, women of color make up about 11% of that. Black women, in particular, are one of the least represented groups, alongside Hispanic/Latina women. Black Girls Code is determined to change that by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become the next STEM leaders.
The founder of Black Girls Code, Kimberly Bryant, recalls how she felt culturally isolated in her studies because none of her classmates looked like her. That is why she decided to launch an organization that will provide essential skills to girls of color in a period of their life when they’re considering what they want to be when they grow up.
This organization offers workshops, conferences, summits, and, most importantly, scholarships for young black women who code. The scholarships are on a first-come, first-serve basis, meaning you don’t have to meet some arbitrary standards to advance your tech education.
The official motto of Black Girls Code has always been, “Imagine. Build. Create.” Even though the digital divide is a big problem, this organization is doing everything to erode this issue steadily.
- Change Catalyst
In 2014, Silicon Valley released diversity numbers that were less than promising. It became apparent that the computing workforce is overwhelmingly composed of white men and that those statistics had to be acted on as soon as possible. Change Catalyst is an organization founded as a direct result of those numbers.
Melinda Briana Epler, Change Catalyst’s Founder and CEO, declares that the organization has an ecosystem approach. It tackles cultural and structural issues across the entire tech ecosystem and focuses on the solutions. Change Catalyst deals with educating stakeholders to encourage actual change.
Change Catalyst sets up summits, career fairs, and roundtables. They consult governments, tech hubs, and tech companies on diversifying their workforce and providing a multitude of offline and online resources for anyone wishing to start in IT. Their Startup Fellows Program seeks to fund businesses of underrepresented entrepreneurs that definitely include women-led projects and startups.
- Girl Develop It
This organization doesn’t only work with women in STEM. They also include non-binary adults who want to learn software development.
- Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code is an organization dedicated to eliminating the gender gaps in entry-level tech jobs by 2027. They value equity, diversity, and inclusion, and their main goal is to change the way a programmer looks. Girls Who Code not only teaches women and girls to code, but it also prepares them to lead a successful career in the tech industry.
This organization offers after-school club programs for girls between the 3rd and 12th grade to learn programming languages in a fun environment. They have online programs that last two weeks in the summer aimed at school girls from the 10th to 12th grade. These summer programs also expose girls to future tech jobs.
Finally, Girls Who Code has college programs for college-aged girls (18 and above). These young women can then build a community with other women in tech.
- Women Who Code
Women Who Code is a nonprofit that empowers women to excel in tech careers. This is an organization dedicated to a future where women are proportionally represented as executives, VCs, founders, technical leaders, and software engineers.
WWC offers coding resources – tutorials, videos, articles, and other educational materials. They look for leadership opportunities for their members and organize more than 1900 global events every year so that any woman has a chance to advance her technical skills.
Alongside this, Women Who Code has an annual budget of $1 million that they give out in conference tickets and scholarships. You can also submit acknowledgments either for yourself or other women in computing through their #ApplaudHer campaign. ApplaudHer is designed to celebrate women who received a promotion, a new job position, who gave a speech at a conference, learned a new programming language, and more.
- TechGirls and TechWomen
The TechGirls and TechWomen programs were created by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
TechGirls is a summer exchange program that supports young women who want to pursue careers in science and technology. Even though the program is developed in the US, it accepts candidates from Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. The core of this program is summer camps that last a week and offer participants an opportunity to examine coding, cybersecurity, and additional activities.
TechWomen is a similar organization, only focusing on older women from the same world regions. It consists of a mentorship program that lasts five weeks and provides access to networking opportunities, resources, and knowledge that enables women to become leaders in any STEM field.
These organizations for girls and women are meant to grow the female tech community and allow women in computer science of all ages and backgrounds to connect and learn from each other.
Even though tech jobs are sorely lacking in female representation, things are slowly looking up. Through dozens of different programs for encouraging girls and women to get into coding, the tech industry’s disheartening diversity numbers are changing.
If you are a woman looking for a job in computing, science, engineering, or a similar career, don’t hesitate to pursue your goals relentlessly. It isn’t easy, but plenty of organizations are dedicated to helping powerful and hardworking women just like you. Take a peek at all of the ones we mentioned in this list, and don’t be afraid of reaching out to them. After all, they were founded with the sole purpose of boosting women and girls in tech.
My Computer Career is also offering a wide range of courses you can take advantage of. Contact us if you have any questions about becoming a successful woman in the IT industry.