A Woman's Place Is in Technology
They are high school students, and already masters of technology. Girls attending high schools in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, they excel at building websites and writing code, robotics and creating software, animation and bioengineering. For their work -- and their potential -- Bloomberg honored these 22 high school students for their achievements in technology at a May 17 ceremony in the Company’s New York City headquarters.
The students received 2012 National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Awards for Aspirations in Computing. Bloomberg was the corporate sponsor for this year’s New York NCWIT awards, which generate much-needed support and visibility for women in the technology community. “A significant part of our business is Research and Development. But there is a lack of girls and women in the field,” says Elana Weinstein, of Bloomberg’s Leadership, Learning and Diversity team.
The lack of women in the field could hinder innovation, adds Jacqui Meyer, of Bloomberg’s R&D group. “R&D takes a certain amount of creativity,” she says. “We need people who can come at problems from different perspectives.”
The NCWIT awards are distributed across the United States to young women who exhibit exceptional aptitude in information technology and computing. The group points out that women hold 56 percent of all professional jobs in the U.S. workforce, but only 25 percent of IT jobs. At the same time, only 11 percent of executives at Fortune 500 tech companies are women, according to the NCWIT.
Bloomberg’s sponsorship of the awards marks a new phase in the Company’s continuing efforts to bring underrepresented groups into the technology field. “It’s very exciting,” says Weinstein. “We’re starting to formalize our diversity and inclusion efforts in a more visible way.”
The ceremony also marked a new phase in the budding careers of the young award winners. Meyer, the event’s keynote speaker, put it this way: “This is an opportunity to create a network of support with your co-winners, to go to college with the knowledge that NCWIT is behind you all the way, to take the next step in your technological aspirations.”
All the honorees seem well prepared to take that next step. They are stellar students who've demonstrated exceptional aptitude in computing. “Generally, what struck me was that these girls were only 14, 15, 16 years old and already had built websites, knew how to code, could create software,” says Weinstein.
They are also “extremely proactive and show strong leadership qualities,” says Christine Caufield, who manages campus recruiting for R&D. “It’s a male-dominated field, so these girls are pursuing these interests without a lot of peer support.”
Even so, many young women make time to support others by tutoring or mentoring younger students. In taking on a bit of responsibility for the next generation, they’re on the right path. In fact, Meyer urged the honorees “to pave the way for those who will follow you. Be a great example. Do this by working hard and with passion.”
The honorees have been invited back to the New York office for Bloomberg Discovery Day, when they can learn more about the firm and its passion for innovative technology. If Bloomberg’s diversity and inclusion strategy really pays off, at least a few of these smart, hard-working young women may eventually find their way to a career with Bloomberg R&D.