A team organized by CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) Community is preparing to reach 10,000 people with this message this year: There is a place for women in IT.
Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president of industry relations for CompTIA, explains that CompTIA encourages its 2,000+ members to join its communities — groups that are member run and led — which are tasked with organizing initiatives each year that drive the IT channel forward.
AWIT recognizes that women are a strong component of the IT workforce, and with the IT channel facing a shortage of workers, the industry could benefit from more girls choosing these careers as the place to put their math and science skills to use. According to AWIT, however, research reveals that women aren’t as familiar with this industry as others: they don’t know women with IT careers and don’t have people in their lives to coach or mentor them as they embark on these careers. Research also shows many students decide by age 13 or 14 in which fields they want to work — or not work. “We want to let girls know IT is a dynamic field with job security and good pay,” Hammervik says.
AWIT is working to enable people willing to be spokeswomen — or spokesmen — for its “Dream IT” initiative. To assist volunteer spokespeople, AWIT is preparing a presentation and materials that include information on salaries, jobs, mentors, and career resources. Cathy Alper, director of CompTIA member communities, stresses the slide presentation is not just a collection of facts. It encourages shifts in perception, promotes conversations and interaction, and provides opportunities for the speaker to share their own experiences. It also shows how people with different talents or interests can find a career in IT. “A young woman who likes art and IT, or a young woman who wants to help people and likes IT, can find a place here,” Alper says.
Volunteers can choose the age group of the audience they prefer within the community’s target of late elementary through adult. Alper adds that audiences can include boys and men. “We want to reach men to change their perceptions of what a person in IT is like too.”
Volunteers are signing up from among the AWIT community, as well as from the IT channel at large, to create this “army of evangelists.” You can contact Alper at CAlper@comptia.org to volunteer. AWIT will contact you and provide directions to download presentation materials prior to the official roll out. Volunteers will need to report back to AWIT about the number of people who attended their presentations — to track progress toward the group’s goal of 10,000.