Crystal Bedell, Network Computng 30 Sep 2015 Viewed 996 Times Viewed by 610 people

Working as a woman in IT doesn't have to be isolating. We've compiled the best organizations for women to connect with their peers, learn about career advancement, and receive the support to persevere.


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It's no secret that the technology industry is suffering a skills shortage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT will add nearly 1.4 million job openings by 2020, and over two-thirds of these jobs could go unfilled due to a shortage of college graduates with computing-related degrees. It's also no secret that women are vastly under-represented in technology.

Encouraging the skills and career development for women in technology does more than create a larger workforce. Studies have shown that teams with greater diversity are more creative than homogenous teams. They solve complex problems better and faster, thereby improving innovation and increasing business performance. There are financial benefits as well. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, companies with the highest representation of women on their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment than those with few or no women.

While there are plenty of jobs available and companies are increasingly recognizing the benefits of diversifying their workforces, breaking into technology isn't necessarily easy. Luckily, a number of resources are available to help women progress through the various stages of their careers - from the stay-at-home mom looking to rejoin the workforce, to girls in high school and college, to the technology professional who is working her way up the career ladder.

"Most technical women aren’t in organizations large enough to form internal support groups, which only intensifies the isolation we feel. So it becomes critical for us to find encouragement using other avenues," wrote Michele Chubirka, an Interop speaker and Network Computing contributor, in 3 Survival Tips For Women In IT. The Interop conference is one venue; the conference actively recruits women speakers and promotes gender diversity through special programs.

But the opportunities for women to connect are many. As part of our "Top In Tech" series, we recognize the following 10 organizations that provide a wealth of resources to help women in technology and help companies benefit from a diversified workforce.

Anita Borg Institute (ABI)
Anita Borg Institute (ABI) seeks to help women in computing reach their career goals by providing opportunities to learn, network with other women and stay inspired.
Founded in 1994 as the Institute for Women in Technology by Dr. Anita Borg, ABI was renamed in her honor in 2003. The website offers a number of useful resources for both women and companies diversifying their workforce, including a career board (no registration is required), tips for recruiting and retaining women technologists, and an email forum with over 5,500 members. ABI also organizes events, including the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which is the world's largest technical conference for women in computing.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit community that seeks to increase the number of women working in computing and technology. Consisting of more than 600 universities, companies, non-profits and government organizations nationwide, NCWIT primarily offers resources for "change leaders" who influence the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in IT. NCWIT's programs include Pacesetters, which helps organizations quickly increase their number of women technicians, and Counselors for Computing, which provides school counselors with information and resources they can use to guide students toward education and careers in computing.

Women Who Code
Women Who Code (WWCode) is a US-based "non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers." The professional community has several key initiatives. For women technologists it provides free technical training on programming languages, professional networking opportunities, career and leadership development opportunities and hack nights. WWCode also helps companies navigate the hiring process and adopt best practices to become inclusive workplaces. Since its inception in 2011, WWCode has grown to exceed 25,000 members and has held more than 1,200 free technical events around the world.

Women in Technology International
Women in Technology International (WITI) is a trade association for women who use technology in any job function, including finance, human resources, marketing, management, sales and, of course, IT. Started in 1989, WITI claims to be the first organization to recognize the role of technology in helping women advance in their careers. Its mission is to help women to "achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and economic prosperity." WITI provides career services, research, small business programs, national conferences and regional events, and networking opportunities. Men are encouraged to join WITI, and they are included in the organization's programming efforts.

TechWomen
TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The professional mentorship and exchange program was developed under President Obama to help strengthen relations between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa. TechWomen seeks to help women in those countries advance their careers and pursue their dreams in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It does so through a five-week program in which emerging women leaders in STEM from Africa and the Middle East engage in project-based mentorships at companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. The program also includes professional development workshops, networking events and a trip to Washington, D.C.

STEMinist
STEMinist was created in 2010 by Ann Hoang, a software developer, to increase the visibility of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). By doing so, Hoang hopes to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM and "capture a social media snapshot of what's trending for women in STEM." The website aggregates and features stories about women in STEM and has a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


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