IT and Women: Empowering Today’s Youth

post date: 5/07/2015

I am passionate about community work. In the world of IT, where woman are just starting to find their footing, I feel it’s necessary to work with today’s youth—specifically young women—giving them the confidence to succeed in today’s business world. You may find women in marketing or as lawyers or doctors, but the IT industry is made up of less than 35% women (and even less in specific fields such as network and computer system engineers) as evidenced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

I was fortunate enough, through Atruent’s preferred caterer Angela Mackel, to be introduced to Western High School (where Mackel is full-time office manager), an all-female school off of Falls Road in Baltimore. On April 30, I met with the “Cyber Doves,” students dedicated to and engaged in information technology. Meeting these young women so soon after the turbulent events in Baltimore, I felt the need to reach out to them was more important than ever. And though my initial thought had been to talk about leadership and entrepreneurship, I changed direction and asked their help in trying to understand the current events of my adopted hometown and how we can help change things. Our dialogue was thoughtful and what we gleaned was that we start change with children through education and school. 

I was able to share that, coming from a difficult childhood in France myself, I was inspired by a friend who took me into her home once I moved to Tunisia at 17. I was working full-time with three jobs to make ends meet, and without my friend, without her support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She inspired me to reach further; to get my master’s degree in IT. All of this underlines my point: we need to support and encourage one another; invest in those around us, teaching self-worth and value in education. Delving further, I spoke with this group of women, along with their teacher, Geza Hanniker, and explained the challenges for females in the world of information technology. That a degree won’t fall into your lap, and no one will hand it to you: that you will have to work diligently through obstacles and potential hardships.

This visit is only the first in a planned series of seminars and engagement opportunities. We plan on opening up internship possibilities to these young women, with days in the job to showcase the necessary skills and products, or hardware and software they can learn about, and shadowing to learn about individual positions and duties.

It is important to break down the stigma that IT is only for men, and that having a career in this field—and even owning your own company—is attainable with hard work, support from others, and perseverance. My hope is that by investing in these students, not only will more women be entering into the IT workforce, but we will be starting the trend of empowering our youth to seek out success, no matter the field.

  • Aida
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