Past the Ceiling & Through the Cloud: Opportunities for Women in IT

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013

Over the past few decades, women have risen through the ranks of the private and public sectors to hold some of the highest leadership and management positions. But one sector that still has room for big improvement is the IT world. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, the door is wide open for women to lead the next wave of IT jobs enabled by the cloud. With millions of projected cloud jobs, women will have a key role in directing the course of technology over the next decade.

Women in IT

Image courtesy of aonetwork.com

Women in IT – Image courtesy of aonetwork.com

According to U.S. Department of Labor predictions, there will be 1.4 million new IT and computing jobs by 2020. Unfortunately, according to a 2010 report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women have been leaving the computing and IT sectors with a steady decline since 1991. According to the Computing Degree and Enrollment Trends report by the Computing Research Associations, women made up less than 20% of PhD graduates in 2011 in the fields of information science, computer science, and computer engineering. For undergraduates the picture is even bleaker with less than 13% of bachelor’s degrees in computer fields earned by women. And while women made up 57% of the nation’s professional workforce in 2011, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor only 25% of professional computing jobs were held by women. At the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology’s 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, women IT professionals gathered to help close this wide gender gap. According to Nora Denzel, former senior vice president at Hewlett-Packard and Intuit, “We were making progress until the mid ’80s – the supply of women peaked at 37% in ’85. None of us knew that by 2010, only 18% of CS undergrads would be women. The numbers moved, but in reverse. It’s a revolution in reverse.”

How Women View IT Majors

Graph courtesy of sites.google.com

But despite these troubling numbers, the future still holds bright promise for women looking to break into and climb the ranks of IT enterprises. Many university programs and businesses offer fellowships and networking groups for women in IT and computing. One of the biggest networks for women in IT is the Cloud Network of Women, also known as CloudNOW. Started up by Jocelyn DeGance Graham, the purpose of CloudNOW is to provide a “non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing, focused on using technology for the overall professional development of women from around the world by providing a forum for networking, knowledge sharing, mentoring, and economic growth.” This leading IT network unites talented minds from startups as well as massive enterprises like Intel, HP, and IBM. Through partnerships, publications, and special events, CLoudNOW “offers members opportunities to creatively approach the technological challenges of [the] cloud today, working in partnership with the tech industry, cloud visionaries, and global media. Forming a collective, together we are the voice of authority for women in cloud and emerging technologies.”

Some of CloudNOW’s Top 10 Women Leading the Cloud

Photo courtesy of crn.com

CloudNOW seeks to promote women leaders in the workplace and to connect IT professionals to mentors for personal and professional growth. Recently, CloudNOW partnered with Netflix for the annual Women in Cloud Meetup. Women IT professionals from companies of all sizes collaborated on panel discussions and session talks from leading experts regarding the latest cloud developments and news. Another opportunity for women ready to lead the cloud to new heights is through the Executive Women in IT Community of Practice, or EWIT. Created and led by women IT executives, EWIT helps advance women leaders in the computing and IT sectors. According to Senior Vice President of the CIO Executive Council, Pam Stenson, “As a group we identify the realities of career advancement, inspiring and teaching the best practices of successful C-level females who have overcome challenges of their industry and taken charge of their careers. We employ new tactics that boost confidence, provide a broad view of the business, and exercise our highly collaborative spirit while balancing all we choose to enjoy in life.” With such institutions and networks in place, women can fully capitalize on the opportunities unfolding in the cloud, to rise through the ranks as leaders of the next cloud revolution.

Secure Cloud Solutions With SpiderOak Blue

Finding a truly protected third party cloud service can often be a challenge as many third party cloud services on the market have vulnerabilities that leave private corporate and consumer data wide open to third party attacks and even governmental spying. One cloud storage and sync company that sets itself apart from the rest of the market is SpiderOak Blue for enterprises. This service provides enterprises with fully private cloud storage and sync, featuring all of the benefits of the cloud along with 100% data privacy, so even in the case of a PRISM breach all the NSA would seize is unreadable blocks of data.

SpiderOak protects enterprise data through 256-bit AES encryption so that all files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices because SpiderOak never hosts any plaintext data whatsoever. This way, even if the PRISM program is allowed to continue, consumers and enterprises can relax knowing that their data and brand is fully protected. SpiderOak’s cross-platform private cloud services are available for users and enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices.

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