Posted January 21, 2015

Event aims to increase women in computer fields

Joseph V. Labolito
Wendy Urban, instructor in the Department of Computer & Information Sciences, and Rose McGinnis, director of CIS' Student Career Assistance Center, discuss the Check Out Tech event with first-year film and media arts major Asha Brown.

Man or woman, computer technology has transformed your life. Yet the people developing, designing and managing that technology are overwhelmingly male.

Check Out Tech, co-organized by Temple’s Department of Computer & Information Sciences (CIS), is designed to introduce female students to technology careers. Students will network with more than 30 women who are successful technology professionals, getting a firsthand look at what it takes to enter and succeed in a tech field.

“The technology job market continues to explode, and this event will open doors to getting more women into these exciting and creative career paths,” said CIS instructor Wendy Urban.

Today, about 18 percent of computer science graduates in the nation are female, down from about 37 percent in 1985, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Less women are going into technology fields, perhaps because female students may not feel at home in a male-dominated environment,” explained Urban, who also noted that the technology sector has the lowest number of females of all STEM fields. “Women can bring a very different set of skills to developing computing systems and can equal or surpass male counterparts.”

Check Out Tech will offer information on Temple’s majors, minors and certificates in the computer and information sciences fields. “Students can also learn how women entered the field, and how they can do the same—even without a technology major,” said Urban.

“It’s not an event with speakers and presentations,” said Rose McGinnis, director of CIS’ Student Career Assistance Center. “We want the students to develop a personal connection with successful women working in technology.”

The event, which is open to female Temple, community college and high school students, will include representatives from JPMorgan Chase, Protiviti, Siemens, Microsoft, the Vanguard Group and other leading employers in the Philadelphia region.

“Check Out Tech is about talking to people, learning what they do and asking questions,” said McGinnis. “All in a low-key, relaxed atmosphere.”

Check Out Tech is co-organized by the Philadelphia-based Network of Women with Careers in Technology (NWCT), an organization dedicated to supporting women in tech fields through education, networking and mentoring.

“We provide awareness that technology is a huge part of every industry and profession,” said Susan Denchak, NWCT’s vice president. “We are exposing students to professional women in very diverse positions with very diverse backgrounds.”

—Greg Fornia, SMC ’92