October 02, 2015
[Podcast] Strengthening the Role of Women in IT
In August of 2015, a very simple, yet powerful campaign went viral. You may have seen photos of women of all ages holding up signs that read, “#ILookLikeAnEngineer” on Facebook, Twitter and the like. This campaign essentially shattered the stereotype of what an engineer looks like, because most people wouldn’t hesitate to admit that they believe an engineer is typically a male. The IT Industry is lacking when it comes to employing females, and Wendy Durica, founder of Datto Women in Technology, wants to change that.
The statistics surrounding women in tech are staggering. According to CNET Magazine, only 30% of tech jobs are filled by females, which means that there are less women influencing product development or business strategy. Each day, Wendy Durica works to inspire young women considering careers in IT and to involve and unify women currently in the IT industry. Her goal is to use Sit With Me’s Red Chair campaign and her group Datto Women in Technology to change the way society views women working in IT and begins to view their involvement as a new norm.
Podcast host is Datto VP of Business Development, Rob Rae. Below is just a portion of their interview, listen to the full podcast now.
When you were entering the workforce, how did you get into a career in IT?
“I love math and as I went through my choices, engineering was just really comfortable for me,” said Wendy, “I think I’ve been very fortunate with my choices and the people I’ve been able to work with. Through the years I feel now I’m at a point where I can really mentor others. Statistically the numbers have not been good, so I really think it’s my responsibility to help let people know that this is a really good industry to work in.”
Let’s talk specifically about the Datto Women in Technology group. At what point did you realize that you wanted to start this group or that Datto even had a need for this group?
“A little bit of a funny story,” Wendy said, “when I started we were on multiple floors of a building with actual companies in between. I don’t remember if we were 4, 6, and 7 there was another company on 5. When you’re on the elevator it was very quiet because if you didn’t know someone you didn’t know if they worked in your same company or not. There was a real disconnect in the women. There would be women on the business end on one floor who didn’t know the technical women from Tech Support or Development. I felt there really was a need to help unify us. That was probably what first got me thinking of having a women in tech group. I wanted to make it to unify both technical and nontechnical women.”
Can you go into more detail about the Red Chair and Sit With Me?
According to Wendy, “So this is the one of the first organizations I was looking at once we started and organized ourselves into the Datto Women in Technology group. One of the websites that I was really drawn to was the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Within that website they had this project: Sit With Me, whose motto is “Sometimes you have to sit, to take a stand.” It’s all about telling your story for the next generation and it’s for technical and nontechnical people, women and men. They have a wonderful promotional slideshow on their website that shows people like Shaquille O’neal sitting in the chair. So it drew me in because it was so inclusive and what really hooked me was I went to a conference last fall up in Boston at the Microsoft Nerd Center, and in one of the general areas there were two of the red chairs right there, live and in person. I was so excited to see it and from I knew, I knew that this would excite other people when they knew about it.”
If somebody wanted to get some information on Red Chair or the Sit With Me organization, do you have contact info or how did you find it?
According to Wendy, “Via the website for National Center for Women and Information Technology. There you’ll find programs or projects drop down menu they’ll have. It’s just called Sit With Me. There’s a lot of great information and they’re very good at responding to any questions people have.”
How would you go about encouraging women that they should take a career or consider a career in IT?
“I really believe that workplace diversity is only going to improve,” said Wendy, “I just see a lot of effort going into this. I can go back 20 years from hardware and software, larger corporations and small start ups. I would tell anyone looking at this that if this work inspires them then they shouldn’t be afraid to pursue it. I think it’s wonderful and creative, and there are many careers to be had and even if you’re not technical. Diversity only helps to improve the product that we bring out. Just want to say ‘go for it’ kind of thing.”