In recent years, there has been a significant push towards gender diversity and inclusion in the world of technology. However, women continue to be underrepresented in the field of IT, facing numerous barriers and obstacles. This is a critical issue that not only affects women themselves but also impacts the entire industry, as diverse teams have been proven to be more innovative, productive, and successful.
SDI talked to some of our female colleagues to explore the experiences and challenges faced by women in IT, as well as the strategies and initiatives that are being implemented to support and empower them. Join us as we celebrate their incredible achievements and contributions.
How has SDI played a part in your career growth?
Aileen: SDI has been a tremendous part of my career growth. They advocate promoting from within and upskilling their employees. When a PMO tower lead opportunity came about, my delivery executive and senior DE recommended that I apply. It is nice to know that my work is recognized.
Becky: My manager listens to where I want to be and what I want to do and works with me to get there. We look at the needs of our department and see where I can best be utilized, but also take into consideration what I like doing and what I would like to learn to keep building my skillset.
What advice would you share with a woman considering a role in IT?
Clarissa: I would tell her to apply for the job! As cheesy as this may sound, do not be afraid of rejection and failure, be afraid of missing out on a chance to achieve your dreams.
Cheri: I would simply tell her to ignore the imposter syndrome and go for it. It’s not as intimidating as you think, it might be a tad male-dominated but that shouldn’t stop you since everyone is very helpful.
Tell us about your career path in tech.
Becky: I worked in accounting departments for private companies. After graduating from Purdue, I started off in engineering/architecture firms, which have similar accounting practices to tech companies, so it was a smooth transition when I began doing accounting work in that sector. I began as an A/P clerk and have worked my way up to Assistant Controller.
Cheri: Overall, I am just trying to learn as much as possible to take on more advanced tasks. I prefer maintaining an “I can do it” mindset to shying away from challenges; I have that in the past, but I avoid it now. I hope to become a ServiceNow Developer down the line. That is my current career goal.
What are you most excited about for the future of technology?
Erin: I’m excited and nervous about the impact of AI, but maybe I have watched too many movies where AI wreaks havoc on the world. I am excited for the future of medical technology to develop and deliver treatment and services that improve our quality of life. I am also excited that I am seeing more diversity at the tech table, including more women.
Clarissa: I am excited to see how far technology will go. Technology continues to creep into every aspect of our lives, and I often find myself wondering if there is a limit to what it can do. I am also excited to see how it can continue to facilitate our lives.
How can we inspire change for women in IT?
Clarissa: I think having more women in the IT field and in higher positions will bring change all by itself. Representation is a huge motivator, and I think that, little by little, having more women in the field will help close the gender gap and reduce the sexism that unfortunately still exists.
Cheri: Give everyone the opportunity to be a part of something big whether it’s a project or a committee. I believe that we can all accomplish great things if given the chance.
How can we work together to close the diversity gap in IT?
Aileen: I believe SDI does this already, but to close the diversity gap in IT more generally, I would say recruit deliberately. What I mean by this is, as an alternative of relying on job posts and word of mouth (and attracting candidates whose identities align with those of current employees), strategically recruit diverse candidates by expanding through partnerships with organizations focused on diversity and inclusion in tech that will allow other firms like SDI to tap into diverse talent pools.
What is a key lesson you’ve learned working at SDI?
Becky: Having a team that you like working with makes a huge difference. I’ve been part of SDI for 9 ½ years because I have a team that I can bounce ideas off of and count on for help with challenges. I also enjoy seeing and talking with them 40+ hours a week.
Erin: Surprisingly, it is not a career lesson, it is a life lesson. Give Back. SDI has always done a great job in giving back to the community whether through their philanthropy, their collaboration with Chicago City Colleges to create student internships, or their work with Chicago United’s Five Forward program in helping minority businesses grow. It reminds me to personally give back as well.
Because the IT/Tech industry is always changing, what do you do to stay aware of the changes that affect your role?
Aileen: I am a member of a couple of professional organizations, which include my alma mater and LinkedIn Professional organization. Joining any professional organization can be a great way to stay on top of emerging technology that directly affects your specific industry. Many professional organizations produce newsletters and updates filled with current and emerging advances, which is a good way to take advantage of the information.
What do you think is the most valuable thing you’ve learned in your career that you want others to know?
Erin: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. One of my good friends gave me this advice years ago when I expressed frustration with a seemingly daunting task at work. It totally reframed my issue and turned my perspective 180 degrees. I literally say this to myself when demands are many and time is tight. Set smaller goals, celebrate the achievements, and move on to the next.