Women In Comms

WiCipedia: The Solutions Edition

This week in our Women in Comms roundup we compile stories offering practical solutions and tips for increasing the number and prominence of women in the tech industry.

Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!

  • An article in the Huffington Post this week bemoaned the fact that so many articles today, especially around March's Women's History Month, point out the problems surrounding the lack of women in tech but do little to find solutions. So, for today's WiCipedia, we're going to focus on some potential solutions, while recognizing that there is no easy fix as it's an institutional problem that's literally been years in the making. Luckily, the article's author also offered some of her own solutions in addition to pointing out the problem with talking about the problems. She suggested:
    • making STEM fun through prize challenge competitions to capture interest early as studies suggest the majority of students who decide to pursue STEM do so in high school;
    • requiring coding in school;
    • instituting virtual mentoring and internship programs with prominent companies;
    • engaging the sports and entertainment industries to help promote STEM and lend it "cool" credibility;
    • changing the curriculum at vocational and community colleges to accommodate mid-career professionals looking to change industries;
    • launching programs to help women in the field become certified as teachers, since female teachers have been shown to encourage girls to pursue STEM more.

  • The UK's Guardian assembled a panel this week to ask women in tech how to increase female representation in the industry. Here's some of what they suggested:
    • seek forgiveness, not permission in applying for jobs that may seem out of reach, going to events, embracing failure and staying visible;
    • get a side gig and learn as much as you can;
    • network and always hustle;
    • find a mentor and take advantage of training;
    • be determined and tenacious.

  • Read Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack's new book, Women in Tech, which offers both success stories and advice on leveling the playing field. Some of her advice includes: "find a few people who believe in you, and listen to them. Don't listen to the haters and the criticism." And strike that fine balance between having a thick skin and a "skillful humanity."

  • Much of the change has to, of course, come from corporations rather than individuals. On a panel discussion this week at the BigDataSV 2016 conference, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) executives suggested that companies should offer a wide swatch of professional development and training curriculum to help women looking to expand their skill sets, learn and network. This, they said, should be in addition to mentoring and sponsorship programs and active efforts to specifically recruit women. (See Intel's 2020 Vision for Diversity & Equality, Intel Closed the Gender Pay Gap in 2015 and Intel Hired 43% Women, Minorities in 2015.)

  • Along the lines of always continuing to learn and network, find local events near you to further your interests and career. You may be surprised to find out there are plenty even after March's Women History month has wrapped up. As a few examples: UW-River Falls is hosting a Girls in SCIENCE event this April aimed at getting elementary and middle school aged girls interested in science; Rutgers University has started the #stemHERstoryRU to raise awareness of STEM amongst women; and there are hackathons especially for women across the country, including in Chicago where Chi Ladies Hack is kicking off this weekend with a focus on coding for a real-world impact.

    And, don't forget Women in Comms' own free one-day conference and job fair will take place Monday, May 23 in Austin, Texas.

    — Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

  • Sarah Thomas 4/1/2016 | 12:05:19 PM
    WiC advice We try to offer a lot of practical advice on how to improve the pipeline, culture, etc for women in tech/comms, especially with our Mentor Monday series. 

    Anything else you've heard that particularly stuck out to you as helpful (and actionable!)?
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