The number of women joining the American workforce has been on the rise the past several years, and in December, women outnumbered men in the labor force for just the second time. It was hailed as a milestone and a sign of things to come.
Opportunities for women
Women are claiming new jobs in fast-growing industries such as health care and education. Another fast-growing industry – information technology – currently lags behind other sectors in its gender diversity. But efforts to address the discrepancy are underway in many corners of the industry, which faces a growing challenge of finding enough workers to staff current and future job openings.
In January, employers across the country advertised job openings for more than 350,000 IT positions, an increase of nearly 53,000 over the previous month. These jobs are available in New York and California, Georgia and Illinois, and almost all points in-between. Jobs are available in virtually every industry – financial services, health care, government, education, retail, and, of course, technology. And one more thing. The media annual salary for a tech job – $82,000 in 2018 – is nearly double that of the average annual wage for all occupations.
So what’s the trick to landing a job in tech? The pathways to a tech career are as different as the opportunities that are available.
Women who serve on the board of directors of CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the global tech industry, share some of the things they’ve learned during their careers.
“I’m a little headstrong and don’t mind standing out from the crowd, which got me noticed early on,” says Tracy Pound, managing director of Maximity, a company based in Tamworth, England, that specializes in IT training, consultancy, and project management. “Learning that you will never know everything but having the attitude to take responsibility to find the answer has helped me throughout my entire career, as honesty earns credibility,” Pound adds. “Have the confidence to stand by what you know and be prepared to embrace the fact that, at least for now, you will probably be in the minority.”
Dr. Georgette Fraser-Moore, president and CEO of Transformation Lead, LLC, an IT and business operational excellence consulting firm in Tucker, Ga. and self-described introvert, believes in the power of relationship-building.
“My career in technology accelerated quickly, largely because of my ability to build relationships with a diverse mix of people at all levels, both inside and outside of my respective organization, including C-level executives, my peers, and key leadership points of contact for our major clients,” she explains. “Relationship-building not only allowed me to be better at understanding and interpreting the requirements needed to engineer effective solutions, but also gave me exposure to key decision-makers who became sponsors for my career growth.”
Problem-solving skills are another invaluable trait, according to Lisette Martinez, director of retail sales and marketing at Comcast.
“Rather than focus on titles or accolades early on in my career, I assertively chased tough problems in the organizations I served and was maniacally curious about tinkering with ways to solve those problems,” Martinez relates. “What I came to understand was that this was not just a service to my team and my organization; more importantly, it taught me valuable lessons over the years that would serve me in future in more challenging roles. Approaching every challenge as an opportunity to learn and serve has enabled much of the success I’ve enjoyed in my career.”
Careers in tech
If a career in technology sounds intriguing, there are a number of resources to turn to learn more about career opportunities.
TechGirlz is a nonprofit program of Creating IT Futures that inspires middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers. The organization’s vision is to create a world where girls have a lifelong passion and confidence in their use of technology throughout their careers. CompTIA’s Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community is a collaborative group that works together to develop an inclusive workforce capable of filling the pipeline for today’s and tomorrow’s technology careers.