Where are the Women in Technology?
This year’s Boise Code Camp has an exciting new panel session: “Where are the Women in Technology?” We have a great lineup of women who will help us all understand why women in tech matter to your bottom line. The panel invites everyone of any gender to attend and learn more about how we can all help make our businesses more productive, our work culture more pleasant, and our employees and coworkers happier. The session is sponsored by “Girl Develop It! Boise”.
Saturday, March 21 at 140p at the BSU Special Events Center
How does it impact you and your business when women are underrepresented in your tech department? Women are interested, why aren’t they working in IT? Why is the number of women in IT decreasing? What can you personally do about it? Why should you care? We can all help make our businesses more productive, our work culture more pleasant, and our employees and coworkers happier. Sponsored by “Girl Develop It – Boise”.
Why Should Idahoans Care?
We frequently hear how Idaho wants to be seen as a top tech destination. We want to attract new startups as well as existing businesses. Women are an untapped resource that can help make that happen. When women join boards and hold decision making positions in businesses, those businesses tend to outperform businesses with fewer women. Having a pipeline of women techies coming out of our local universities and a workforce with a high percentage of techie women can help attract high tech businesses. Tech businesses historically have a big focus on diverse workforces since over the years they’ve seen the benefits of having a multitude of perspectives when developing new products and services. Women are leading adopters of new products and services, it just makes sense to have women adding a female viewpoint to the decision making process as those products and services are chosen and built.
While tech businesses value women, they still see women exiting the field at much higher rates than men. Take game development as an example. Sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment are worse in the areas of tech that traditionally are even more overwhelmingly male than most – like video game development. While nearly half of women who play games are women, many games are marketed with ads that emphasize women as sex objects and few games have female avatars to choose from. When female characters or avatars are present in a game they generally have a much more limited range of body types with an emphasis on highly sexualized looks. Again, that is usually attributed to the fact that most of the people who write and market games are men – they never even question what they are doing, it’s just accepted. There is an unproven assumption that women will play “boy games” but men won’t play “girl games”. Female gamers like panelist and IT veteran Jane Miceli are asked “are you really a girl?” when they play well and score high in an online game. When more women are hired into gaming companies/divisions the products change. More non-sexualized female characters appear. Games begin to have more layers to them, more ways of interacting. And then more people buy those games. That’s good for business.
When women are mentored, encouraged, and valued at work they help drive better business decisions.
Our panelists include three women representing a range of IT career stages. Kelsey Suyehira is a BSU senior with a math degree who has returned to school to get a degree in computer science. She is currently president of the Association for Computing Machinery Women’s group, a club that supports the recruitment and retention of women in computer science on campus. Suyehira is joined on the panel by Marianna Budnikova, a professional hacker at the locally owned MetaGeek. In addition to her passion for machine learning and genetic algorithms, which were the basis of her Master’s thesis, Budnikova loves to develop iOS and Android apps. Rounding out the techies on the panel is Jane Miceli. Miceli is a 15 year veteran of the IT industry and a SCRUM Master with a Master’s degree in computer science. She is an avid supporter of tech education and ongoing volunteering on the Idaho Technology Council’s Education Committee, Boise School District’s First Robotics Team 2122, the annual Boise Code Camp conference. Miceli is also managing director for Girls In Tech Boise. All three women show their leadership skills in the Boise chapter of Girl Develop It – a nonprofit that offers affordable technology classes to women through introductory classes such as Python, HTML, and Hadoop. These female tech leaders will talk about their personal experiences with being a woman in tech.
The panel is rounded out by two BSU gender studies lecturers. Carrie Semmelroth lectures on early and special education and gender topics at BSU. Semmelroth spends much of her time on data analysis in her department which gives her an interesting perspective on the intersection of gender and technology. Representative Melissa Wintrow is an educator, trainer, and leadership consultant who lectures on gender studies. Wintrow has been elected to represent District 19 in the Idaho legislature. Semmelroth and Wintrow will bring their perspectives as leaders and educators to help us understand how we can each have a positive impact at work.
Panel moderator Cindy Gross is a long time IT veteran with a passion for changing the way businesses do business, whether that’s through adoption of new technologies such as Hadoop or by increasing diversity in the workplace. Gross looks forward to a great hour of discussion on a range of Women in Tech topics that take us from a view of today’s reality to concrete, real-world actions that each of us can take to attract and retain more women in technology. The panel invites live tweeters to use the hashtag #BoiseWIT when discussing the session.
Hashtags: #STEM #WIT #PASSWIT #BoiseWIT @GirlDevelopIt #BoiseCodeCamp
- Carrie Semmelroth
- Cindy Gross @CindyGross | @sqlcindy
- Jane Miceli @janemiceli
- Kelsey Suyehira
- Marianna Budnikova @mariannabenz
- Melissa Wintrow @wintrow4idaho
- Julie Larson-Green and the Misogyny of Gaming http://www.newsweek.com/2013/07/24/julie-larson-green-and-misogyny-gaming-237754.html
- The Other Us: Women and the Gaming Community http://www.think-entertainment.net/278/the-other-us-women-and-the-gaming-community/
- Gates: Why hiring women is good for business http://fortune.com/2015/03/09/melinda-gates-why-hiring-women-is-good-for-business/
- Why women are good for business http://www.womenonboards.org.au/pubs/articles/1112-why-women-are-good-for-business.htm “Return on Invested Capital: On average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66 percent”
- We Need More Women in Tech: The Data Prove It http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/we-need-more-women-in-tech-the-data-prove-it/280964/ “In 2010, although 57 percent of undergraduate degree recipients were female, but only 14 percent of the computer science degrees at major research universities. Incredibly, this number has actually fallen in recent years: In 1985, 37 percent of undergraduates degree recipients in computer science were women. By 2010, that fell to 18 percent, and at major research universities, the number was 14 percent.”…”[W]omen-operated, venture-backed high tech companies average 12 percent higher annual revenues. They also use on average one-third less capital than male counterparts’ startups.”
- Why Women Quit Technology http://www.computerworld.com/article/2551969/it-careers/why-women-quit-technology.html “63% of women in science, engineering and technology have experienced sexual harassment… If a man fails, his buddies dust him off and say, “It’s not your fault; try again next time.” A women fails and is never seen again. A woman cannot survive a failure.”
- Search on #gamergate