Opinion

Haines: The pursuit of IT careers for young women

By Chris Haines
Posted 10/12/20

Less than 10 years ago, Zoom didn’t exist and now it’s a common household name.

This virtualization tool, and others like it, brings our computer screen to life as an interactive …

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Opinion

Haines: The pursuit of IT careers for young women

Posted
As IT continues to evolve at warp speed, a strong, diverse and sustainable workforce will be needed to meet industry’s demand. Now is the time to prepare tomorrow’s cadre of professionals and it is up to us to ensure they are ready for this rapidly changing world.
– Chris Haines, Scottsdale Community College

Less than 10 years ago, Zoom didn’t exist and now it’s a common household name.

This virtualization tool, and others like it, brings our computer screen to life as an interactive meeting room, classroom, conference space, or even happy hour social gathering hotspot. Information Technology (IT), and the tremendous advances it has made over the last 50 years, enables our world to innovate, grow and thrive.

With 31% of the U.S. workforce employed within the IT sector, it remains a “top” industry today with a median wage of $88,550 in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Out of the top 25 jobs in the field of IT, 20 fall into the “bright outlook” category; this designation projects higher than average growth in a field compared to other sectors.

In this particular case, growth is expected to average 17% over the next 10 years fueled by new job creation in existing industry, the relocation of corporate IT hubs to the area due to the business-friendly ecosystem, and the advent of start-up enterprises locally solving global challenges. (*Data from O*NET*)

This sort of growth demands a diversely qualified workforce with an array of educational credentials ranging from micro-certificates through to master’s degrees. The Maricopa Community Colleges serve as the premier training provider of countless IT educational programs. Through affordable, flexible and accessible options, students interested in an IT path can begin learning as early as high school through dual or concurrent course options.

Additionally, working professionals can rely on the community colleges to remain current with industry credentials by pursuing certificates of completion (CCLs), fostering lifelong learning and relevance in a thriving career.

For example, Scottsdale Community College offers more than 30 different technology-related and industry-recognized certificate and degree programs through its Computer Information Systems division alone.

According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women comprised only 26% of the U.S.’ IT workforce in 2019 — a disappointingly low number!

As a way to introduce the volume of educational and career opportunities available in IT to young women at an earlier point along their journeys, the Maricopa Community Colleges in the East Valley (Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Scottsdale Community College) joined forces to launch Girls Get IT (Information Technology) in 2019.

Under the leadership of the Maricopa IT Institute, East Valley (a collaborative of the three community colleges), over 150 high school girls participated in a day of breakout sessions, panel and keynote speakers, vendor fairs and mentoring/networking with over 60 professional women already working in the field.

When COVID-19 struck, the Girls Get IT 2020 planning team acknowledged the tremendous opportunity ahead to leverage (yes, you guessed it) IT to help bring the event to life via virtual means.

This year’s event will take place on Nov. 13 as it celebrates the vast possibilities women have in the world of technology. Participants will have the chance to explore different aspects of technology through unique and interactive breakout sessions, engage with dynamic speakers eager to promote the field to future gamechangers, and connect for mentoring through facilitated networking exercises.

The day promises to be fun, educational and memorable as it introduces the potential to our future workforce.

Events like Girls Get IT 2020 are strengthened by the invaluable partnerships formed between the colleges and the community.

As IT continues to evolve at warp speed, a strong, diverse and sustainable workforce will be needed to meet industry’s demand. Now is the time to prepare tomorrow’s cadre of professionals and it is up to us to ensure they are ready for this rapidly changing world.

Editor’s Note: Chris Haines, M.Ed., is interim president of Scottsdale Community College, a Maricopa Community College. For more information on Girls Get IT, visit scottsdalecc.edu/community/girls-get-it

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