Why Diversity Matters in the IT Workforce


Two Organizations Team Up to Impact Change 

I have had the wonderful opportunity in my 34 year working career to be a part of a number of successful teams and organizations and the common denominator for all of them was the ability to incorporate diversity of thoughts and perspectives.  Most think of diversity as limited to ethnic or gender diversity, while it is far more than that.  However, the varying backgrounds, experiences and unique attributes that are associated with gender diversity provide some of the most vivid evidence of comparative success.

Information Technology has historically been a male dominated profession, although the percentages would indicate it is actually worse today than it has been in the past, comparing to early days and then each decade through 2000.  One organization that is a fantastic partner with IT-oLogy is the National Center for Women and IT (NCWIT) and they have been the strongest national voice for gender equity and the call for diversity in this vital and growing professional discipline called IT.

NCWIT is holding their 10th anniversary National Summit in Hilton Head, SC on May 19-21.  The event features a power packed lineup of best practice sharing from key leaders and advocates (both female and male) representing business, higher education and policy makers.  For those of you who are collaborators in our IT-oLogy non-profit organization, that model should sound familiar.  We have connected the two organizations together under the term affiliates and see the synergy of working together and many times the work starts in K-12 education and with a message to younger students.  IT-oLogy creates programs to drive more awareness and interest in IT careers to start the process of filling the pipeline.  Since women make up more than 50% of the population, it only makes sense to address “why not more women in IT”.  Our efforts together are making a difference.

According to Lucy Sanders, President and CEO of NCWIT, “The annual NCWIT Summit allows for hundreds of our K-12 and higher education influencers, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and social scientists to put together solid plans of action for diversifying the field of technology — all based on research and effective practices. This year, we’re thrilled to have the support of IT-oLogy as an Alliance Partner and a NCWIT Summit Community Reception Sponsor.”

While there is no silver bullet to solve the issue of more women in the IT workplace, some companies have been more successful than others at hiring, developing and retaining women in their IT staff.  For instance, BlueCross BlueShield South Carolina having more than 2000 IT employees, has a 38% female population, which is significantly higher than the average.  Equally as important, 50% of their leadership team is female.  Their choices around talent management are a series of aligned programs that are focused on an IT organizational systems design model that includes culture and diversity for continued success.

A number of companies who are a part of IT-oLogy will be represented at the Summit by their high-profile female executives mostly from the southeast region of the country.  NCWIT is doing some amazing things and this Summit is a great way to learn how to get involved.

IT-oLogy has connected a number of other smaller working groups to this effort, such as Women in Open Source, led by Red Hat executive DeLisa Alexander, WISE (Women in Stem and Engineering) led by Kay Read and coding focused groups like DigiGirlz, Girls who Code, Girls of Code, Rails Girls and more.  We have also been instrumental in helping NCWIT with their wonderful Aspirations Awards for high school girls pursuing IT careers.  The IT-oLogy supply chain model for IT resources helps connect the dots for students who get interested and then take next steps, (higher ed, entrepreneurship, internships, jobs, professional development, leadership advancement, volunteerism, mentoring, etc).

Doing this repeatedly creates scale.  More women in the IT workforce create the opportunity for diversity of thoughts and skills yielding a variety of options for innovation and transformative solutions. This drives business results, economic development  and a higher level of competitiveness in this global marketplace.  AND….that is why we formed IT-oLogy and Lucy and her team formed NCWIT in the first place.

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