Charleston org growing a strong community of women in tech
As the world turns more and more towards technology, the field of computer science has absolutely exploded in popularity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate of over 15% in the next ten years for fields related to technology, and so there has been significant interest in the field from students and professionals alike.
As the field of computer science grows more and more popular, there is a rapidly increasing rate of women getting involved in computing occupations. The National Center for Women in Technology predicts that there will be an estimated 3.5 million new job openings in tech fields in the next six years. With 26% of computing jobs being held by women now, it is expected that there will be many women joining the workforce in the coming years.
Computer science is a field that has traditionally been dominated by men, so there is an increasing awareness of the importance of providing a strong community for women in the field. That’s where Charleston Women in Tech comes in, they are a local community of tech professionals who strive to “achieve increased participation and achievement by women in technology through a focus on three main objectives – Education, Mentorship, and creating a Community for women in the Charleston area.”
CWIT provides invaluable resources for education through their quarterly meetings, when speakers will come in and teach the group, as well as an extended time for women in tech to get to know one another. Dr. Valerie Sessions, a professor at Charleston Southern University and a member of the CWIT Board of Director’s values the time because of the opportunities it provides to students. “It’s great to be together with a really big group of women and to support those students,” Dr. Sessions said.
In addition to the opportunities that women receive at the quarterly meetings, CWIT recently started an extensive mentorship program, which connects women in tech with experts in their fields, allowing for deeper personal connections. Jennifer Schultz, the head of the mentorship program and a software engineer for Tallo, has a fascinating story of how she came to work in tech. Originally graduating as a psychology major, after spending time working in data organization she became familiar with the software and wanted to explore her interests further. She is the founder of the Charleston Women Devs group, and a participant in the mentorship program.
The mentorship program has grown rapidly since its inception, and currently boasts 27 mentors and 93 mentees.“It has been shocking to be honest, how many people signed up for this program,” Ms. Schultz said.
CWIT prides itself on providing a strong community of growth for anyone seeking a career in tech, and this can clearly be seen through their CodeON program. CodeON stands for Code in Our Neighborhood, and it is a program that provides resources for youth to experience and learn how to program and get involved in computing careers by going into underdeveloped communities.
The program originally started off meeting in a laundromat, but they have since expanded and now have three locations at community centers and churches through the Charleston area. At a CodeON meeting, youth will have opportunities to learn about programming and apply their knowledge, providing invaluable experience in a rapidly growing field, and providing opportunities that many people would otherwise never have.
CWIT is playing a large role in providing opportunities for women who are interested in the computer science field all throughout the Charleston area. You can learn more about them and get connected at http://charlestonwomenintech.com, and if you’re a student who’s interested in getting into tech, be sure to check out Charleston Southern University’s computer science and cybersecurity majors at https://www.charlestonsouthern.edu/academics.
Wesley Myers is a student contributor for Marketing & Communication and is a senior majoring in communication studies.