Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#SmartIsBeautiful Campaign Encourages and Inspires Women in STEM

Recently, a group of female information technology executives introduced a brand new initiative designed to encourage women in technology to become mentors to young women interested in high-tech careers.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president for Amazon Web Services’ global public sector at FedTalks, according to FedScoop. “Today, we decided that, starting right now, starting right here, we’re going to adopt and mentor either one girl, one woman, one classroom, one school.”

She actually encouraged more than 1,000 members of the audience to commit to participating in the campaign as well by tweeting #SmartIsBeautiful. TrendsMap, which monitors trending topics on Twitter, tweeted that the slogan was trending after the announcement was first made last week.

Touching on some of the challenges of encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM, Jennifer Sanchez, assistant director of the IT Customer Relationship and Management Division at the FBI, said, “Obviously women are underrepresented in the technical fields. We have to figure out how we can reach girls before they disengage.”

According to Carlson, while college women outnumber college men, women only make up about a quarter of the tech workforce. She also pointed to a project from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that predicts in 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs in the U.S. “We need to play catch up here in the U.S.,” she said.

Vicki Schmanske, vice president for IT and security solutions at Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions, feels that for women who are already achieving at a high level in the tech world, it’s important to find a voice. “I see too many women in industry who try to change who they are to fit in,” she added. “I say be authentic because being yourself is very impactful.”


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