In tumultuous times, Gender Equality in Tech is more important than ever - SecondMuse

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    GET Cities opens opportunities for women, trans and non-binary individuals to break into tech fields by focusing on three pillars – academia, industry, and innovation.

    There may be no moment in recent history where bolstering women in technology is more important than now. The coronavirus pandemic triggered a recession that hit women and other marginalized groups hardest during a moment where our individual and collective reliance on technology leapt forward.

    That’s why the work of GET (Gender Equality in Tech) Cities is more important than ever. Technology is not only ubiquitous but central to how economies grow and serve people better.

    In the last year, GET Cities has made strides towards its goal of establishing inclusive tech hubs across the U.S., launching a third U.S. city and developing the work that is already underway in Chicago and DC.

    Why technology? It permeates the world we live in – from shipping and logistics to information technology, to the personal devices we each rely on – tech plays an outsized role in shaping the future of our societies. It is constantly finding its way into new facets of our work and personal spheres and represents enormous economic potential – potential that we want to see captured by the diverse cross-sections of our knowledge base and labor force.

    The data show that diversity drives innovation and economic performance – it is good business. According to a 2019 report by S&P Global, publicly traded companies perform better financially when they have women on their boards of directors. 

    What is needed is more opportunities for women, trans and non-binary individuals to break into tech fields and lead within these sectors. GET Cities is tackling this by focusing on three pillars – academia, industry, and innovation.

    The share of women represented in computer science peaked in the 1980s and has declined ever since, so we focus on promoting and facilitating educational onramps for women via our partner Break Through Tech. This includes curriculum changes, innovative micro-internships and summer internships, career development programs and a supportive community of women in tech.

    The second pillar focuses on the industry level. Women need more avenues to advance within their industry and move through leadership roles. Data from 2020 show that women represent only 26% of roles in tech. There is a long way to go until women capture their full economic potential. There is also a long way to go until the tech sector harnesses the full creative and leadership capacities of women, trans, and non-binary members of our workforce. 

    The last pillar is innovation. We want to see more diversity amongst founders and funders within the tech economy – they will not only drive the future of technology and business innovation but also step into the roles of bosses, mentors, and industry leaders that advance equity and inclusion within the tech economy.

    The data already shows that equity and inclusion are key to jumpstarting innovation and maximizing economic success. To get here, we’ll need to develop new policies, cultures and norms within businesses and sectors to attract, hire, retain, and advance women, trans and nonbinary folks, particularly those who are Black, Indigenous, Latino/a and people of color.

    This is why in August GET Cities announced an ongoing partnership with All Raise, an organization dedicated to accelerating the success of female founders and funders. 

    On the heels of a devastating year and “she-cession,” venture capital in the U.S. hit new peaks in 2020 – venture capital-backed companies raised over $156 billion. Yet the gains weren’t felt by women. Women-founded companies received just 2.3% of that total – losing ground on the record 2.8% captured by women-owned businesses in 2019. 

    All Raise’s work aligns with our mission to increase the impact and influence of women, transgender, and non-binary individuals in the tech industry. With this in mind, All Raise has expanded its work to Chicago, and through this collaboration, will establish All Raise Chapters in additional GET Cities to activate tech venture funding and cultivate networks of founders and funders. 

    Last month, our second GET city, DC, hosted a Big Think event. The gathering is a forum for idea generation and knowledge sharing among industry stakeholders – leaders, influencers, and funders – to develop industry ties and collaborate on identifying solutions that can grow gender and race-inclusive tech sectors while strengthening their local community.

    The Big Think format is fundamentally inclusive. Designed to facilitate and grow big ideas, the event was centered on working group sessions or opportunities for stakeholders to collaborate and identify the programs, barriers, and potential opportunities that specifically inform onramps to technology careers in our participants’ city.

    Here are some sobering numbers: Women only accounts for 26% within tech and computing jobs in the U.S. in 2020. And Black women are just 3% of the tech workforce. Asian women are 6% and Hispanic women are 2%, according to 2020 reporting by The National Center for Women & Information Technology.

    These dismal figures represent a staggering amount of untapped and underutilized talent and potential that is not only poised to accelerate innovation and growth within tech but transform local economies and communities.

    By focusing on emerging U.S. tech hubs, GET Cities works to model how to leverage the power of local communities and networks to create a gender and race-inclusive tech industry that is driving the future of tech innovation.