Author : Janice Levenhagen-Seeley

Breaking Down the Glass Walls of Technology

We’ve come a long way, but there is more work to do.

Much has been said about the glass ceiling – an invisible, unbreakable barrier that often prevents women and minorities from moving up the corporate ladder. Within the technology industry, it’s more than just a ceiling. Glass walls are being built, keeping certain people in and others out. It’s an architecture flaw that doesn’t bode well for an industry that consistently struggles to recruit and retain women into high-tech careers. Only 18 percent of computer science majors are women, and 56 percent of women in computer science jobs leave the industry by mid-career.

Not only is the lack of women in tech careers bad for equality and fairness, it’s bad for business. Without the diverse perspectives of people from different backgrounds, innovation sputters and creativity drags. Businesses with greater racial and gender equality were found to have higher revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater profits than those with less equality. A clear business-case can be made for the urgent need to get more women interested in technology career, and that’s where ChickTech comes in.

Increasing the ranks

January 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of ChickTech. I began the organization to provide the opportunities and a sense of community and belonging I felt were missing when I began my own career in computer engineering. Much has changed since ChickTech was launched in 2011. Over the last 5 years, ChickTech has gone from a small group of volunteers to a national organization with 14 active chapters across the country. We’ve seen amazing growth of a passionate and driven community, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

Interest in technology begins early, which is why one of our main priorities is pipeline-building. Like many girls growing up, I wasn’t encouraged to go into technology or engineering. If it weren’t for my grandmother suggesting I try engineering because I was good at math, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Our goal is to identify girls who don’t fit the “stereotype” or realize they possess technical skills, and show them that they can still be feminine and have these varied interests while still succeeding in technology.

The other half of the battle is retention. It can’t be stated enough the importance of community and feeling a sense of belonging to keep people engaged and interested. I gave into impostor syndrome after dealing with discouragement and negativity in the industry – and it didn’t seem like other women were as supportive of each other. Our goal is to create a community for women who feel isolated in alone in their careers, and help them break through these barriers.

We’re here to open the doors of technology for women, to help shatter glass walls and create paths to success. We’re excited to grow our organization and its chapters in 2017 to positively impact the lives of more woman, and leave a lasting impact on the technology industry.