In 2005, The Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology published a report entitled “Where are the Women in Information Technology?” Six years later, we’re still asking that same question—the focus of an article this week in Bloomberg/Business Week. Shockingly, the article reports that although women hold about half the jobs in the U.S. economy, they represent less than 25 percent of science, technology, engineering and math positions. Ultimately, we need to not only stem the flow of women leaving the industry, but also leaving the associated fields of study in college.
Sunday evening, at a fundraiser dinner, a friend of mine who works for another technology company raised this same question. Looking around the room, she pointed out several of the brightest minds in technology, who happen to be women, and questioned why they weren’t more visible within their organizations and within the industry. Clearly, there’s an opportunity for our industry to make a big shift, but what will it take?
After the fundraiser, I went home to watch the Emmys, which I had recorded. Typically, when nominees are announced for different categories, each individual smiles into the camera, waiting for the winner to be announced. But last night, Amy Poehler broke the mold when it came to Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy. When her name was called as a nominee, she leapt out of her seat and rushed up on stage, triggering a wave of laughs. As each successive nominee in that category was announced, she followed Poehler’s lead. It was a great moment: All the successful women in that category on the stage together, presenting a united front.
Perhaps we should be taking a cue from them, women in IT. Maybe there’s something to taking the stage and owning it. Let’s not let another six years go by without an answer to ‘Where are the women in IT?’