Networking groups are ubiquitous. They continue to grow, empower women and drive diversity and inclusion in the technology industry.
The report Getting to Equal 2020 cites women’s networks as one of the factors that influences advancement in an organisational culture of equality. However, at a time when diversity and inclusion are high on the agenda of practically every technology company, many ask how industry networking groups for women are still valuable and relevant.
The pandemic has reinforced the need for increased emphasis on inclusion
Although the ‘new normal’ seems to have worked in favour of technological innovations at work and in personal life, studies indicate that women are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in the professional setting. This may have a negative impact on female representation, career progression and gender pay gap. Therefore, it calls for an even stronger focus on diversity and inclusion programmes in the industry.
Networking groups play a key role in ensuring that women continue to thrive in the workplace. In our recent annual meeting of our CEOs, CWIT’s senior leaders made a strong commitment to continue to prioritise a variety of support mechanisms, in order to ensure the industry does not undermine the impact of the progress we have made so far in closing the gender gap in STEM careers.
Inspiring future generations
We offer a number of opportunities to build and foster connection through events, as well as boost confidence and inspire new generations of females in the industry. One of our main goals is to attract more women into careers in the technology sector. Volunteers from each member company collaborate on a regular basis to deliver various programmes aimed at raising students’ awareness about an array of career opportunities available to them by studying a STEM subject.
For instance, through initiatives such as Teen Turn or Digital Futures, we work with school students to spark their interest in STEM subjects and projects. We also run University Tech Starter to reduce the numbers of female dropouts from STEM degrees and increase the number of students who enter technology roles after graduation.
Women-centric doesn’t mean exclusive
We connect women in technology, yet putting women at the centre of our network does not mean promoting exclusivity. Our network does not limit its membership to women only and while openly communicating focus on females, we underline the value of gender-mixed networking within the industry in addressing unconscious bias in workplaces.
We are committed to advancing diversity within the network by increasing male participation in our everyday activities and events. We believe that in order to meaningfully raise the profile of women in tech, we need to unlock the power of the entire technology industry by attracting and engaging with allies.
Despite the pandemic challenges, our network has continued to grow virtually with the appetite and enthusiasm for collaboration remaining strong. We are looking forward to welcoming new members and partners joining us in our journey to attract, promote and encourage women in STEM careers in the years to come.
We recently worked with Mediaplanet on the 2020 Women in STEM campaign. A printed publication was enclosed within every copy of The Irish Independent newspaper and the content is available online at businessnews.ie The campaign featured exclusive content from key thought leaders and industry voices about the importance of women being equally represented in STEM careers. This article was originally posted on businessnews.ie as a part of Women in STEM Q4 2020 campaign.