In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders. ― Sheryl Sandberg
As chief digital evangelist for Salesforce.com, and prior role as chief marketing officer for a technology company, I have the privilege to collaborate with chief information officers (CIO) across all industries. I believe some of the strongest CIOs are women CIOs. Only 14% of CIOs are women, but they have growing influence and expect larger budget increases than their male counterparts. I have written about the positive impact of more women CIOs and I have researched and identified the top 100 most social CIOs , where more than 1 out 5 were women CIOs. These incredible social and influential CIOs include Kim Stevenson (@KimsStevenson) of Intel, Joanna Young (@jcycio) of Michigan State University, Michelle McKenna-Doyle (@nflcio) of the NFL and Diane Doersch (@DoerDi) of the Green Bay Area Public Schools.
I have participated in CIO thought leadership panels with all four extraordinary CIOs named above, including recent collaboration with Diane Doersch. Diane is a brilliant technologist and digital change agent. She is also a passionate advocate for women in technology. I asked Diane to share her thoughts regarding how companies and business leaders can better promote and enable more women in technology.
Here are Diane's thoughts and recommendations:
While returning from an information technology (IT) student data security meeting in the Washington, DC area recently, I was reading the September 17th issue of USA Today. In that issue, there were two articles that again pointed out the fact that there are very few upper-level females or executives of color in the field of technology. As a the Chief Technology & Information Officer for Green Bay Area Public Schools, my personal experience has been that IT continues to be male dominated field.
However, in Wisconsin, women in the IT field are working to change the current reality. In April of 2015, a group of women interested in attracting, retaining, and empowering women in the field of technology had its initial kick-off meeting. Now in its first official season, the Women in Technology (WIT Wisconsin) organization has over 150 members. The group has garnered the support of area technology-based businesses like Oshkosh Truck, Kimberly Clark, and Thrivent. In addition WIT Wisconsin has been recognized by local Chambers of Commerce as a group who will be able to assist in growing and retaining female IT talent.
We believe every women in technology deserves the opportunity to be inspired, while learning from peers and growing in our professions. - Women in Technology Wisconsin
Within WIT, teams are dedicated to attracting young women to the field of technology through awareness, activity, and social support. I serve as the chairperson of the WIT4Girls team whose mission is to bring STEM-related activities into area elementary, middle and high schools to introduce young women to the various jobs within the field of IT.
Often girls think of IT jobs as coding/programming. It's our responsibility to help them understand that IT also includes project management, web design, network engineering and more. - Diane Doersch
Another team within WIT is WITonCampus, which is a group of young college women working toward degrees in the IT field. From the WITonCampus Facebook page: WITonCampus is a club at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh that provides support and insight into technology. The club helps college-aged women grow as strong, confident women in a male dominated field through bonding activities, group discussion, speakers, and company tours. WITonCampus helps promising IT female students grow professionally and socially by connecting with professional women in their field of study. Every member within WITonCampus is eligible for a leadership opportunity, which can help build their resume and develop leadership skills. By supporting young people in their IT efforts, we will be able to make a difference.
The Green Bay Area Public School District is being intentional about bringing more diverse populations into the field of technology. Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) activities are present in all of our elementary schools. Our curricular department, in conjunction with our technology integrators, are bringing STEM activities to life. It has been our experience that when we introduce STEM-related activities in the primary grades, all students grow in confidence and skills, which provides momentum as they move into the middle school years.
In addition, the District partnered with the Green Bay Packers organization which has resulted in meeting the needs of both organizations. Members of the technology department along with male and female students serve as WiFi Coaches for the 80,000+ fans of the Green Bay Packers on game day in historic Lambeau Field. As WiFi Coaches we assist fans in connecting their smartphone to the free WiFi network. Students are provided an opportunity to use their social and technical skills to provide superior customer service to Packers fans. This partnership is important in building lifelong skills and confidence in students by helping others with their IT needs.
In order to encourage young women to pursue a career pathway in technology, it will take intentional action by education and business leaders. School districts and organizations in Green Bay and Wisconsin are taking a systemic approach to address the gap of women in the IT field.
I look forward to continuing the conversation. You can find me on Twitter at @DoerDi. How is your organization empowering girls and women to enter the IT field?
Thank you Diane for your incredible thought leadership and advocacy for more women in technology. Diane also advises organizations to use inclusive language and to make sure diversity is visible and celebrated. She believes organizations must examine their hiring, compensation and promotion processes. All business leaders, across all industries, must champion greater adoption of diversity in technology.
CEOs must push the issue to the forefront to meaningfully advance women, said Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com. The first ever Dreamforce Women's Leadership Summit was a full day of keynotes from some of today's most powerful and influential female leaders across technology and business. As part of the summit, Marc Benioff and co-founder Parker Harris spoke with Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Editor, Re/code about how Salesforce.com is tackling the issues of diversity in tech. The 5 takeaways from the Women's Leadership Summit highlighted culture as an important element, but we all must lend a helping hand.
Salesforce.com is empowering women to succeed but not just talking about it, but doing something about it. Business executives like Diane Doersch serve as a role model and inspiration for inviting and championing more women in technology.
This post was co-authored by Diane W. Doersch, Chief Technology & Information Officer for Green Bay Area Public Schools. Thank you Diane for the awesome post title. You can connect with Diane on Twitter at @DoerDi.