B016 – Women’s Voices in IT: I Belong!

One of our strong women’s voices in IT, Michelle Harris, explained the heart of getWITit when she stated that because of getWITit, women can now say “I belong.” getWITit guides women through the challenge of learning how to use and assert their voices professionally, positively, and in a timely course of action.

One place education begins is within ourselves to know that we belong. The negative thoughts must be thwarted. Most of our insecurities come from ourselves, not externally. Quite often, the culture that has grown throughout the years for women to become who and what we need to be, was not a culture that welcomed and embraced the decision-making voice of women.

getWITit is dedicated to connect with more and more women who haven’t realized there is a community of women in IT. There are women that are islands in the IT world, all alone. We are making the connections and informing females everywhere that there is an “Us” and “We Belong!”

You are Capable and Confident to Be A Woman in Tech

When first entering the world of IT, so many women first feel, think, and express “I can’t do this. What am I doing? Who am I to go to these meetings and discuss what I think?” In my recent getWITit Podcast, Amanda Lange, getWITit Columbus Chapter VP, said, “When I found getWITit I was like, “I have a voice here. I’m important. I’m a female, and I am capable and confident.” From that experience of being accepted for the first time, Amanda wants everyone who is thinking about being involved in getWITit to know that they will be accepted.

You are Capable and Confident to Be A Woman in Tech

When first entering the world of IT, so many women first feel, think, and express “I can’t do this. What am I doing? Who am I to go to these meetings and discuss what I think?” In my recent getWITit Podcast, Amanda Lange, getWITit Columbus Chapter VP, said, “When I found getWITit I was like, “I have a voice here. I’m important. I’m a female, and I am capable and confident.” From that experience of being accepted for the first time, Amanda wants everyone who is thinking about being involved in getWITit to know that they will be accepted.

A too-often familiar expression by women considering IT is the statement, “I can’t code.” Michelle Harris, getWITit Columbus Chapter President, believes that “if we can walk and talk, we can all code because we’re doing that every day. We just have to transfer that inner ability into the knowledge. We can all code and take the idea of the tool we need and invent it and have users use it.”

Likewise, it takes diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences to make that tech tool usable to all. When you talk about businesses, retail, and e-commerce, the constituency that we’re serving is as diverse as we are and more so. Therefore, we have to have those diverse minds and experiences to prove out the usability and efficacy of it.

getWITit Stays the Course

There is a very strong belief at getWITit to always bring diverse skills, aptitudes, and experiences to help women see their own value. getWITit stays the course of fulfilling our goals and aspirations for all women. We are very steadfast in our determination to educate, empower, and connect. These are the fundamental principles that empower women’s voices in IT.

How Do You Go from Good too Great?

Maureen MetCalf, award winning author and speaker, encourages women toward inspirational leadership. She has interviewed some of the greatest minds of the world around leadership. In one of her NPR episodes, she explained that the differences between good and great are not in knowledge, learning, degrees, and capability; it is purely in comfort with yourself. When you say, “I know who I am,” that’s one thing. When you say, “I know who I am, and I’m good with it,” that’s empowerment. That’s where you go from good too great.

Sustaining Women’s Voices in IT

It is just as important to sustain women’s interest and careers in IT as it is to bring them to the industry. When we can give them connections to sustain that interest, that’s where the opportunities lie. In the last five years, getWITit has succeeded to engage more women and people of color within the tech industry.

Statistics reveal that women leave the technology field at twice the rate of men. Thus, sustainability of women in IT is essential. The more we can empower, educate, and enable women early on, they will be better prepared for sustainable success in technology careers.

Women’s Voices in IT and Continuous Learning

One of the most imperative core attributes of technology is continuous learning. It changes at a pace where you can’t just get comfortable in what you do. You have to have the passion, desire, and curiosity to inquisitively seek and learn new things.

An additional crucial element in continuous learning is the ability to show young girls that these opportunities do exist and there are places in IT for them. Consequently, these young ladies will begin to see themselves being in those leadership roles. Relating to women paves the way for young minds.

Role models allow girls to see the vision of what they want to become and gives them the courage to know “I could be like her.” The concept applies: if you can see it, you can be it. We have to be visible so that young females can have strong beliefs in their aspirations for futures in the tech industry.

Where Do Women’s Voices in IT Begin?

So many studies show that the sooner that we can get young ladies interested and engaged the better. The getWITit 2018 Conference kicked off what is now the annual Youth Track for girls. The 2018 pilot Youth Track was amazing and immensely successful. It was exciting to see the young ladies learn, absorb, and engage in their sessions.

Equipping Young Ladies with Opportunities and Tools

What was unique about the 30 girls that attended our Youth Track was that among the attendees were some young ladies that we had brought in from community houses, shelter homes, Community for New Directions, etc. It was very important to us to bring this event to these young ladies who don’t have the same opportunities as others. It is one of our goals to always offer opportunities and equip those we assist for success.

As Terri Bettinger recently expressed in my podcast, the current generation of young people are amazing and brilliant. Plus, they are very socially conscious. They come up with awesome technical solutions to the social challenges of life. In addition, they are empathetic.

For example, if they hear a news story about water shortages in South Africa, they come up with solutions. They want to solve problems. Most of today’s youth are hands-on. Moreover, they’re not afraid. We must tap into that. They’re not afraid to investigate, explore, and even break stuff and then learn how to fix it.

girlCON 2019

This year’s girlCON will be June 12 at the Fawcett Center in Columbus, Ohio. Sessions will be provided for grades 7 – 10. One of the exciting events planned at girlCON is the presentation of an electronic clock by Chris Judd. He will also present Raspberry Pi. In addition, there will be robots, drones, gaming graphics and design, 3D printing, virtual reality, soft skills, and social skills. Register here for girlCON 2019.

getWITit Conferences Are Not Only Women-Power Events

The getWITit conferences are abundantly more than women-power events. We include men in all our events and Welcome them. We need men around the table for diversity and inclusion to succeed in our mission.

Advocacy and Inclusion for Our Male Counterparts

Another necessary perspective is the focus of bringing more awareness to men. Not just the technical education, but to educate advocacy and making informed decisions. Men have wives and daughters whom they want to be successful. They are supportive, but are not always informed.

Diversity is always an important element, but inclusion is a whole separate topic. Helping them to understand that statistically having 50% women doesn’t mean they are as equally engaged or that their voices are equally heard. Some of our role has to be advocacy and enlightenment for our male counterparts around the inclusion of women.

getWITit’s Missions are Tenacious!

In conclusion, getWITit stands firm in our missions to promote awareness, empower action, and to share with women and men the education, information, diversity, and inclusion that is so essential in our communities.

Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth Tolia

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