According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), while 57% of professional occupations in the US were held by women in 2016, women held only 26% of professional computing occupations. Correcting that imbalance is the right thing to do, of course. But there’s another dimension to the issue that raises the stakes for getting more women into IT jobs.
“We have 80,000 graduates every year coming out of college with computer science degrees,” says Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman, technical intelligence manager for the office of CTO at Delphix. But US colleges and universities can’t crank out computer science grads fast enough to meet demand. “Over a million technical jobs will be here by 2020, and we’ve got nobody to fill them,” Kellyn says.
Attracting more women into software development and other technical fields will help to fill the IT jobs that will otherwise go wanting. But, perhaps due to lingering gender bias, or simple oversight, effective communication of the opportunities doesn’t always happen. “No one told me that I could do this as a career,” says Michelle Malcher, a security architect at Extreme Scale Solutions in Chicago. “No one said, ‘you can have fun with code.’”
Now that Michelle is having fun with code, she, like Kellyn, puts significant time and effort into getting the word out about the opportunities and career potential for young women. But men also have a role in that mission. “Men need to be part of the conversation. It can’t just be women talking about women's issues,” says Natalie Delemar, a senior consultant with Ernst and Young and an active supporter of women in technology. “We need to have men at the table so that they understand the importance of these issues.”
Women and men can engage in mentoring and sponsorship activities that are important in getting more women into IT roles. Heli Helskyaho, CEO of Miracle Finland and a PhD student at the University of Helsinki, is one of two mentors recently elected by computer science students at that institution. “The faculty just decided that it's time to have mentorship in the university the first time after all these years.”
But while mentoring and sponsorship are important, there are key differences. And, as Natalie observes, “women in the workplace are actually over mentored and under sponsored.”
Natalie explains that while mentoring typically focuses on career guidance and advice on educational matters, “sponsorship is when somebody actually uses their political capital to put you into positions of power to give you experiences to get ahead.”
Getting ahead is what the latest Oracle Developer Community podcast is all about, as Kellyn Pot'Vin-Gorman, Michelle Malcher, Natalie Delemar, and Heli Helskyaho, along with panel organizer and moderator Laura Ramsey, share insight on what motivated them in their IT careers, and how they lend their expertise and energy to driving momentum in the effort to draw more women into technology.
This panel discussion took place at Oracle Openworld in San Francisco on September 18, 2016.
Senior Consultant, Ernst and Young
President, ODTUG Board of Directors
CEO, Miracle Finland
Oracle ACE Director
Ambassador, EMEA Oracle Usergroups Community
Security Architect, Extreme Scale Solutions
Oracle ACE Director
Technical Intelligence Manager, Office of CTO, Delphix
President, Board Of Directors, Denver SQL Server User Group
Manager, Database Technology and Developer Communities
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