Recently, we had the opportunity to present at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln IT Leadership Conference. Our session, “Fostering Technology-Passionate Women,” focused on how leaders can create ways to keep women in technology engaged and passionate about their careers, as well as foster their growth. During this session, we shared specific grassroots actions we have led to develop the careers of highly talented women within our product and development teams. We also shared our experiences in launching a regional EdTechWomen chapter within the Salt Lake City area. You can view our presentation here.
As we came together with many different IT leaders, we took away some important observations:
-Unconscious gender bias exists in edtech; we need to be aware of this and take steps to solve for it. This may include how we describe jobs, how networking activities are perceived negatively among women, and how leadership roles are awarded.
Unconscious gender bias exists in edtech; we need to be aware of this and take steps to solve for it.
-We need to figure out how to encourage grassroots activities with shared ownership among women and men in organizations. These initiatives never work with just one person leading them. The more energy and commitment that exists around these activities, the more quickly they will have an impact.
-The excellent keynote was delivered by the Liza Mundy, author of "Code Girls," the story of the female code breakers from WWII. One important idea we gleaned from this presentation is that women drive organizational success as much as men, so we need to make a conscious effort to include women's thoughts and contributions whenever possible. The stories the author shared about women’s impact during various critical points in the war exemplified this extremely well.
We should begin to rethink how we craft IT job descriptions to encourage more women to apply.
-During our own interactive session, we discussed the need to encourage women in edtech throughout their careers. This need starts even before a person’s hire date, so we should begin to rethink how we craft IT job descriptions to encourage more women to apply. Women often look at technical roles and, when their own experience doesn’t check every box for that role, simply don’t apply for it. But as the need for more leadership and organizational skill in our IT roles grows, we understand the value of a much broader skill set. We must adjust job descriptions to reflect the emphasis on these broader skills so we can help more women self-select for technical roles, as opposed to opting out during the application process.
These were just a few of the highlights from a very insightful and impactful conference. All in all, we came away with many ideas to share and implement here at Instructure. We hope the presentation and ideas above spark a conversation wherever you are as well!
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