Co-Author: Luz Ma Murguia, Latin American Marketing Director, Cisco
There is evidence that a shortage of technology professionals is undermining business performance. In a 2016 survey by Venture Beat, 65% of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other business leaders said that difficulty in recruiting skilled IT professionals was harming IT modernization efforts. That was three years ago and since then, the gap has gotten even wider.
One solution – recruit more women.
In an industry that is on pace to reach $5 trillion globally in 2019 (CompTIA Information Technology), an increase in the number of women in the IT industry can make a difference. Despite this opportunity, the challenge for women to make themselves heard in a male-dominated field remains.
Where are the Women?
Statistics show that 22 million young people in Latin America and the Caribbean neither work nor study. Out of these 22 million young people, 75%, or 16 million, are females. Also, 1 out of every 3 women in this region doesn’t make her own income, which increases vulnerability and economic dependency on others.
According to UNESCO, as of 2017, women accounted for just 35% of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students at higher education levels. So what accounts for this gender disparity? According to a recent study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), many girls who do every bit as well as their male peers in mathematics may still decide on more humanities-centric careers—because their verbal skills outshine their already high marks in math. The article in Nova about this study went on to emphasize that, “It’s well-established that social and cultural norms, including the stereotypes and biases imposed on children from a very young age, account for a large part of the gender gap in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.”
Time for a Change
It’s time. Time for change. Cisco is leading the way. Our inclusion and diversity efforts are some of the best in the industry. Our current Executive Leadership Team is made up of 13 people, six of whom are women, including our Chief Financial Officer and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. It starts from the top. Women need to look up and see mentors and role models they can aspire to. These women are leading the charge!
Cisco also wants to be a part of the solution. By helping to change stereotypes and empowering more girls and young women to pursue opportunities in the digital era. It all starts with educating and motivating young girls, and women, to be leaders and to transform the IT Industry by increasing female representation.
The Cisco Networking Academy, one of Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility priorities, is an IT skills and career building program available to learning institutions and individuals worldwide. Currently operating are 5,000+ instructors, 700,000+ students (35% of whom are female) in 31 countries across Latin America.
More recently, Cisco launched “Women Rock-IT (WRIT)”. Cisco introduced the program in 2014 across the Asia-Pacific region. The mission of WRIT is to educate young women and inspire more girls to study technology to ensure they don’t miss out on tomorrow’s best jobs. Due to its success, Women Rock-IT became a global program in 2018. And officially launched in Latin America as “Women Rock-IT en Español” in May 2019. Women Rock-IT en Español features female technology role models who have turned their passion for technology into rewarding and successful careers. We also provide free self-enrolled Networking Academy courses for girls to start exploring and discover their passion for IT.
Our theme for this year’s Women Rock-IT en Español series is “Global Problem Solvers who innovate like Technologists, think like Entrepreneurs and act as Social Change Agents”. With our partners in LatAm, we will motivate young girls and women to not only have a desire to learn more about IT – but to be the change agent for a shift in diversity for IT globally.
We are truly in awe of and inspired by the girls of the future. We both had had the pleasure of speaking to them at the WRIT launch event. They are smart, ask tough questions and are ready to roll up their sleeves and jump in. They are passionate about changing their futures with careers in technology. This is an exciting time and we are glad to be a part of it.
Sign up to join our next Women Rock-IT en Español event on November 14.