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CompTIA Campaign Aims to Inspire Girls to Pursue Tech Careers

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Lynn HaberWith Tuesday’s release of “Make Tech Her Story: What Needs to Change to Inspire Girls’ Pursuit of IT Careers,” an e-book that accompanies a broader awareness campaign, CompTIA, the nonprofit trade association, is on a mission to motivate technology industry leaders, educators, parents and young women to pursue careers in the IT industry.

Unfortunately, the call for women in technology has been broadcast for years, yet gender diversity in IT fields is seriously wanting. According to CompTIA, women held a mere 25 percent of the 5.1 million core technology jobs in the U.S. at the end of last year.

Women in IT peaked at 36 percent in 1991 and has been on a steady tumble since. Opportunities in the tech sector are booming with almost all human-resource professionals struggling to fill today’s job openings. U.S. employers project that 600,000 new core IT jobs will be created by 2024, according to a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

So what’s going on?{ad}

According to CompTIA research, a young woman’s interest in an IT career declines with age, from 27 percent considering an IT career in middle school to 18 percent in high school. That’s interesting because it’s not like mobile devices, computers and cloud apps are foreign to these girls. Yet, among those girls who haven’t considered a career in IT, 69 percent reported not having enough insight into tech jobs. A whopping 53 percent of respondents said that if they had more information about the breadth of IT jobs, it would encourage them to consider IT.

Some other interesting findings from CompTIA’s research, which queried girls between 10 and 17, regarding other factors that discourage girls from tech careers: Parents and guardians may play a role as boys are more likely to begin using mobile devices five years earlier than young girls — and boys are also more likely to explore how tech devices work, 36 percent of boys versus 30 percent of girls; taking a technology class only results in a slight increase in the those considering a tech career – 32% – and less than half of girls who’ve taken a technology class feel confident about their skills. By the time they’re in high school, 61 percent of girls versus 71 percent of boys have taken a technology class.

Having exposure to someone who works in IT appears to increase a girl’s likelihood that she’ll pursue an tech job: Thirty-seven percent of girls know of someone with an IT job. This rises to 60 percent among girls who have …

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… considered an IT career.

From the e-book:

As this research illustrates, one of the most influential sources of IT information is the people already doing these jobs. Women who serve
as programmers, network administrators, system architects and chief technology officers have an opportunity to share their stories. Simply communicating what you do in your professional day-to-day, or describing the road you traveled to an IT career, provides girls with visibility into  a world they vaguely know. These first-hand experiences can go a long way toward expanding girls’ narrow perceptions of IT employees, demonstrating that these jobs don’t exist solely in windowless rooms — nor do they require sitting in solitude for eight hours a day.

One of CompTIA’s communities is Dream IT, launched by the organization’s Advancing Women in IT community, which promotes the connection of female IT professionals to connect with and inspire girls in to explore IT.{ad}

There’s a larger systemic problem when it comes to women in the workplace, according to a 2015 report by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org that included almost 30,000 participants. Some snippets from the report, “Women in the Workplace”: Women are still underrepresented and face steep barriers to advancement; and, women are not leaving organizations at higher rates than men.


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