Dream a Little Dream of IT: CompTIA Wants Women to Join Tech Ranks
The explosion in popularity of personal electronic devices — tablets, smartphones, media players, and so forth — is changing our view of who uses "computers." In American school systems, however, there's still a perception, going all the way back to middle school and junior high school, that computers, particularly in terms of what they are and how they work, are something most readily of interest to boys. As kids get older, that particlar perception, generally speaking, tends to become reality.
This is one of a number of factors that have combined, over the last several decades, to create a largely male-centered and male-driven workplace culture in most sectors of the overall IT realm. In terms of raw numbers there are a considerable amount of women who work in IT, but in terms of percentages, most professional pursuits in IT are still overwhelmingly male.
In recent years numerous IT firms and organizations have sought to raise awareness of the IT gender gap, and increasing numbers of those same groups are now actively attempting to shrink it. IT industry association CompTIA, which curates some of the most popular vendor-neutral certifications in IT, has a special Advancing Women in IT Community. Earlier this week, CompTIA announced the release of new video to popularize its Dream IT program, which is designed to recruit women and girls into IT-centered professional and educational pursuits.
The 15-minute video begins with a segment narrated by Cristina Greysman, a manager at Sundgard Availability Services, a data recovery firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Greysman talks about taking an early interest in computers in childhood, and how parental reinforcement of her curiousity helped to eventually steer her into a technology career. The video goes on to discuss the breadth of IT jobs and employers available, with opportunities for ambitious tech-savvy individuals just about anywhere you could look.
The number and variety of career options is apparently a key factor. CompTIA says its own research has shown that, though girls and young women frequently express little or no interest in the subject of technology careers, they often come around when they learn about how many different and interesting job paths they could take. In other words, simply broaching the subject may not capture their attention, but providing specifics reels them in.
CompTIA executive Nancy Hammervik said in a statement to media members that Dream IT wants to change the tone of the conversation. "IT as a career choice has been plagued for too long by perception problems and stereotypes — that it's a boring job, a job for geeks who prefer to work alone, that only men can succeed in IT, or that all IT jobs are at risk for outsourcing," Hammervik said. "This view is outdated and wrong."
Additional information about the Dream IT program is available online.