First, Some Context
I am a woman in tech. Specifically, I work with data from abuse investigations for the State of Oregon. (If you’re curious, my work is released publicly in the form of an annual data book.) My team is small, and actually, the women on my team outnumber the men by a small margin. Our office is a relatively small one, and our team is just five analysts. I feel fortunate, to a degree, for the unique place I’ve found in tech. I hold an entry level position and I’m supported by mentors and offered training opportunities. It is a comfortable and supportive place to begin a technology career. Studies show, however, that my situation is unique.
PDX WIT – Portland Women In Tech
The experience of most women in tech is more adverse than mine. I first encountered this reality while networking at an event in Portland, when one of the women on a panel shared her own struggle as the only woman on a team of financial analysts for a private sector firm. I was struck by her drive and tenacity, and her story about a supervisor providing the feedback that she could be more direct and less apologetic was revelatory for me. Mostly, I realized that my cozy little spot was doing nothing to prepare me for the challenges I might face as I advanced in my career as a data analyst.
It was at this networking event that I was told about Portland Women In Tech. The advice I received was to go to their networking events and learn more about both the adversity and the opportunities for women. I was intrigued and hopeful. The PDX WIT website outlines their purpose as this:
“PDXWIT empowers individuals within the Portland-area tech industry by offering community and skill-building events, mentorship, and access to jobs and opportunities. We dedicate ourselves to nurturing community leaders, advocating for the underrepresented, and inspiring change both locally and in the wider world. We leverage our leadership, commitment and influence towards reducing the imbalances that exist today in an industry that is shaping the future of humanity.”
Women Building Up Women
Finally, the Data
Studying the way we hire, fire, pay, promote and work is the awareness that sparks the beginning of change. PDX WIT collects data from surveys in the Portland, Oregon area. Their report is PDX WIT State of the Community and has insights into the experiences of women, people of color, and people who identify as non-gender conforming. TrustRadius compiled data from national data sets including from Statista and Glassdoor to produce the following key points:
Solutions and Resources
Alright, the data is scary. Discouraging. Debbie Downer and all that. Where do we go from here? Well, the purpose of data is to identify and validate these disparities, so we can look at opportunities.
Networking and Mentor Relationships
Personally, I adore the networking forums that have been created by remarkable women in the face of these issues. Local networking organizations are the sources to start supporting one another and championing the necessary changes to come. When we gather, train, and mentor together, we build a collaborative coalition that has the strength to bring meaningful changes to the environments we work in. We’ve already talked about PDX WIT. The State of Oregon Research Academy (SORA) is another networking group for researchers, economists, financial analysts etc. (learn more here).