With the wage gap (it’s not going away anytime soon), gender performance gap and quickly evolving technology we use today, it’s never been more important to inspire the next generation of girls to believe they can achieve their dreams with a career in tech. To understand how you can become a #girlboss and help motivate the tech women of tomorrow, we talked with Steven Ostrowski from CompTIA. He helped us put together a guide of five ways you can make an impact, like talking about your career with girls you know and helping them find the perfect volunteer ops. Scroll on for Steven’s top tips and a few great resources.
1. Launch a job-shadowing program at your company. Sadly, research shows that only 23 percent of middle and high school girls today have considered pursuing tech careers. Among girls who don’t associate tech with a “dream job,” 69 percent shared that it’s because they don’t know what a tech career looks like. Steven says, “So many girls have preconceived notions of what it means to work in tech — imagining untrue stereotypes like sitting alone in front of a computer all day or fixing buggy smartphones.” Eek!
Starting a job-shadowing program or offering to conduct informational interviews at your company are awesome ways to give girls a glimpse into what a career in tech is really like, with jobs in design, security and data science.
2. Reach out to young girls. You should NEVER hesitate to talk about your professional experiences with the girls in your immediate circle, whether it’s your daughter, niece, cousin or neighbor, Steven says. “It’s one thing for girls to look up to historical or celebrity role models like Grace Hopper or Marissa Mayer for inspiration,” he says. “But when someone you already have a relationship with works in tech, their passion for what they do is that much more contagious.”
3. Sign up for speaking opportunities. There are lots of meaningful ways to proactively share how you found your career too. You can speak at local schools and libraries, to youth groups or even at conferences. “Not an experienced public speaker?” Steven asks. “No problem! Programs such as Dream IT host a library of speaker materials that women in tech can take into their own communities to help shatter stereotypes, illuminate the benefits tech careers can offer to women and provide actionable tips for finding a job.”
4. Volunteer to teach. Learning that takes place outside of the traditional classroom is another influential way to spark girls’ interest in tech. Steven says, “Educational groups around the world are devoted to skills-based training for students as young as elementary school. They need dedicated volunteers to get in front of as many future tech pros as possible.”
In terms of a good starting place, Steven suggests scoping out TechGirlz because they offer free materials that volunteers can use to lead workshops on a wide range of tech topics. He also says that Girls Scouts’ Imagine STEM program relies on volunteers to lead sessions that explore the importance of tech in our everyday lives, making it just one of many amazing ways to share your passion for what you do.
5. Become a thought leader. There are heaps of channels where women in tech can dish the deets about their work and inspire other women to get involved (think personal blogging platforms, digital publications or your company’s website).
Posting photos and stories on popular social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat or vlogging on YouTube adds a visual element that will show girls that they belong in tech too — regardless of their ethnicity, age or gender.
Do you work in tech? Tell us what you do and why you love it on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)