Raising the bar with inclusion, diversity, and equity: Creating an environment for women to thrive in tech
At Amazon Web Services (AWS), we place a high priority on innovation. And innovation is best served by a diverse team, which is why we support organizations like Girls in Tech, a global nonprofit of more than 70,000 members, that advocates for diversity, equality, and inclusion in the technology industry.
A report from the National Institute for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) found that women earned 57% of all bachelor’s degrees in 2019, yet only 21% of computer and information sciences bachelor’s degrees. And while women hold 57% of all professional occupations in the US workforce, they hold only 26% of all computing occupations. And, the numbers of women in STEM drop down to the low single digits when you look at BIPOC women.
This discrepancy is about to get larger with a major tech boom headed our way. The US Department of Labor estimates four million computing-related job openings in the U.S. by 2028, but only 19 percent of these jobs could be filled by U.S. computing bachelor’s degree recipients.
As an industry, and as a culture, we need to do more to get women into STEM education, so we can get them into successful STEM career paths, and ultimately prepare for the significant uptick in future global demand for educated tech workforces.
Not only are women in tech vital to our economy’s sustainability, but diversity equates to better teams, better products, better services, better communications, and better bottom lines. Consider this: a recent McKinsey & Co. report, “How Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014.
It is clear—the time for change is now.
AWS supports Girls in Tech to help advance the critical initiatives that aim to level the playing field for women in tech. Girls in Tech provides training, workshops, resources, and networking opportunities to women looking to enter the tech workforce, make career changes, or re-enter the workforce after taking time off. Through its bootcamps, hackathons, jobs board, and conferences, the organization has helped hundreds of thousands of women follow their dreams and achieve success in the tech industry. And today, Girls in Tech is doing more than ever to advance opportunities for BIPOC women, differently abled women, and other under-represented groups. They have also doubled down in the face of COVID-19, which is threatening to wipe out decades’ worth of gains made by professional women, by making the annual Girls in Tech Conference virtual and free to everyone.
I’m supportive of Girls in Tech due to their global nature. For example, we just opened up a Girls in Tech chapter in Tanzania. In speaking with Dina Dabo, managing director of Girls in Tech Tanzania, her focus is on developing programs and events geared towards showing Tanzanian girls and women of all ages that they have a voice in the STEM world. This includes after school programs, weekend STEM clubs for children, and events that bring together women (including retired women) to showcase different ways to create further opportunities for themselves in STEM. She said, “Our daughters and mothers should be confident in finding their own purpose in STEM.” This is the second chapter in Africa, and there are over 50 chapters worldwide.
These are just some of the reasons I’m proud to serve as chairman of the board of Girls in Tech. When change starts at the top, and we lead by example, we all win.
I look forward to the future being created by leading organizations like Girls in Tech, with the help of sponsors like AWS.
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, read this conversation between Girls in Tech founder Adriana Gascoigne and AWS head of diversity, equity, and inclusion LaDavia Drane, where they discuss the experiences that compelled Gascoigne to build her non-profit, how the movement became global, and why the work of Girls in Tech will never be finished. And learn more about Girls in Tech.