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Where Are the Women in Tech?

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According to the National Center for Women Information Technology (NCWIT), the US Department of Labor estimated that 1.4 million computer related jobs would be available in the US between 2010-2020. At current graduation rates for Information Technology, we can expect to fill only 32% of those jobs with US Information Technology graduates. The NCWIT further states that although women hold about 57% of professional occupations in the US, only 26% of computing occupations are held by women. Even worse, only 3% of those jobs are held by African-American women, 5% by Asian women, and only 2% by Hispanic / Latino women.

The computing industry is failing to attract women to the field and sadly retention is poor. Women are leaving the industry at staggering rates, according to the NCWIT. Overall, the number of people graduating with computer or information science degrees has been steadily decreasing since 2004. There is a severe shortage of talent in IT. Salaries for.net programming and other popular technologies are the highest ever and the need for developers is rising. Companies are in near crisis mode as they fight to retain and attract IT talent. American women with computer science degrees can help fill some of these gaps.

Personally, I have been a woman in IT since the late 70's when I graduated with a business degree and the MIS Manager at the company I worked for noticed I had programming on my resume. At the time, I was only making a summer pit-stop before pursuing further education in interior design. Struggling with a shortage of programmers even at that time, I was made a very lucrative offer as a full-time programmer, which I accepted. I never thought I would stay in the field, but as the years wore on I realized I was destined for a career in IT. Oddly, it wasn't my passion but the money was good and the opportunities were like none other for a woman in the 80's.

The software development career path led me to work with managers and co-workers in a highly male dominated field. Even from a client perspective, all upper management and power lunches that I was included in featured a roundtable of suited men with one petite suited woman – me. I never actually thought much about it. My opinions and work were always highly respected. The knowledge of software and the creation of highly necessary business programming provided a "20 something" woman with opportunities that I could have never had in most other fields. Besides being highly compensated, the work was challenging and I worked with business executives at the highest level.

One of the best things about software development is that you are filling a business need. To sit across major players at top companies and work with them to develop software that will make their business better is an amazing experience. Further, technology is exciting to work in because there is always something new to learn and some new development perspective to take. …