The best-kept secret of the technology industry

At the third annual G(irls)20 Summit, business sponsorship has increased. But why businesses engage, and what’s on their mind, vary by industry.

Law schools graduating classes are made up of more than 50% women, so for the profession recruitment is not an issue. The issue is retention. After graduation women are leaving the profession, and one factor often cited is the partnership track coinciding with women’s child-bearing years. The profession is trying to reinvent itself to retain women.

On the other hand, for technology companies it’s all about recruitment. The number of women choosing to study in technology fields is not increasing. Both universities and business are struggling on how to attract women to a growing industry filled with high-paying jobs.

Isn’t it ironic? 

One of the best-kept secrets of the technology industry is not only do we want more women but also that technology careers are great for women! Put aside the stereotype of the geek with the pocket protector.

The reality is that there are many reasons for young women to consider tech careers…

1. Plenty of job opportunities – You may hear that jobs in technology and IT are decreasing, and therefore it is not a good field to get into. This could not be further from the truth! It is pretty obvious that over the past 20 years technology has changed the life of the average person dramatically, and will continue to change and produce new tools for years to come. For example, there were only 361 million Internet users in the entire world in 2000. In 2011, there were 2 billion!

2. High pay – Another reason I encourage girls to consider a career in technology is the pay. Graduates of engineering and technology programs continue to demand above-average salaries.  Starting salaries can range anywhere from $60,000 to $95,000 depending on your skills, and the specific company.

3. Flexible hours – Unlike many professions, technology careers can be very flexible. It’s not typical to “punch a clock” – we work hard but have the flexibility to take time in the day to have hobbies, work out or take a school field trip with our children. An added perk is that with an Internet connection, remote access and our computers we can work from pretty much anywhere. We don’t need to drop out of the work force when we have families because we can integrate work and life.

4. Making a difference – No doubt about it, technology is changing the world. As a woman, I find it rewarding to work in an industry that can make a difference for people thousands of kilometres away. For example, Cisco HealthPresence uses technology to make healthcare more accessible and affordable to people in remote areas of the world, including places like northern Ontario.

I’m glad to see progress being made by the G(irls)20 Summit, and by our own efforts across Cisco for Girls in ICT Day.  But we aren’t there yet.

It’s initiatives like the G(irls)20 Summit that will cultivate our next generation of female leaders, and industries like technology that are in desparate need for those leaders. So, if you are a young women considering career options, give technology another look!

About Trina Alexson

Trina Alexson is the head of Advanced Services for the Service Provider Segment at Cisco Canada. In her role, she leads engineering teams that work directly with Cisco Service Provider customers to help them plan, build and operate their networks. Trina has over 25 years experience in the information technology industry and has been with Cisco since 1996. Prior to her role in the services organization she led software development teams responsible for high availability features in Cisco’s premier routing platforms. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. Trina Alexson est la responsable des services avancés offerts au segment des fournisseurs de services chez Cisco Canada. Dans le cadre de ses fonctions, elle dirige les équipes d'ingénierie qui travaillent directement avec les clients prestataires de services afin de les aider à planifier, à créer et à exploiter leurs réseaux. Forte d'une expérience de plus de 25 ans dans le secteur des technologies de l'information, Trina œuvre chez Cisco depuis 1996. Avant d'occuper son poste dans le domaine de l'organisation des services, elle dirigeait les équipes de conception de logiciels responsables des fonctions à disponibilité élevée dans les plateformes de routage de premier ordre de Cisco. Trina détient un baccalauréat en ingénierie de la Memorial University of Newfoundland ainsi qu'un MBA de la Richard Ivey School of Business de la University of Western Ontario.
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