Girls in Tech aims to close IT gender gap
In the 20 years Coral Wells has been in the tech industry, the gender gap has shrunk, but has not yet disappeared.
The chief executive officer of tech education company ConnecTech said: “I am seeing more young women coming through tech colleges and entering the work force which is great. However, we need to support them and encourage them to remain as I have seen some leave to other non-tech ventures which saddens me.”
In January, she launched a Bermuda chapter of Girls in Tech, an international organisation seeking to empower women in technology.
The organisation's seminars, boot camps, workshops and meetups will mostly be aimed at women over 18, but there will be a few events involving men, as well, and girls under 18.
Ms Wells said teaching and networking with like-minded women is imperative to women's growth in the tech industry.
Technical project manager Lynden Rowe joined the advisory board of GIT because she wanted to act as a mentor to young women just coming into the industry.
Ms Rowe, a consultant in business strategy and project management at Tasi Consulting, said she didn't have many female mentors when she was just starting out.
“I found that I didn't have a lot of people I could turn to, being the only person at the table, trying to figure out how to navigate difficult situations and just having that guidance,” she said. “In my training and courses, it was always a mix. The difference was when I started working on technical projects and leading technical projects, quite often I'd be the only woman around the table. Even now, it is still very much male centric.”
She said sometimes tech has a stigma to it.
“People think you wear the hoodie in the basement and do coding,” she said. “Even if someone does not necessarily go towards coding there is so much more they can build their career around.”
Another GIT advisory board member, Jalesa Vincent, started off as an art and design major at the Bermuda College. She fell in love with programming while learning web design. After studying digital communications at the University of Baltimore, she now works at Validus Reinsurance as a robotics processing automation developer.
“I work for different departments within Validus to help automate different processes,” she said.
She wants to help other young women find their way into technology.
Justine Dzofonoo-Burch, also on the GIT advisory board, works at Deloitte in the risk advisory department.
“It is IT audit, so we review the IT systems,” she said.
She became interested in technology as a child, watching her father run a security system business.
“I always saw him poking around with alarm systems and cameras,” she said.
One day during a technology class at the Bermuda College, a male student asked her if she was in the wrong class.
“He said should you be doing something girlie?” she said.
It discouraged her for a moment, then made her more determined than ever to keep on in the field.
She earned a bachelor's degree in network engineering from New England Institute of Technology in Rhode Island.
“I was always the only girl in my class,” she said.
Now she is passionate about helping other young people get involved in technology.
“I have already encouraged a good number of females to get involved,” she said. “They call me and they say ‘Justine, guess what I am doing, I am studying IT now'. I changed my major. It makes me happy that more females are becoming aware that this is a field you should get into. It is very versatile.”
GIT will start a membership drive next month. Their next event will be a meetup for women to talk about EQ skills on March 10.
For more information see bermuda.girlsintech.org, call 400-3678 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org