Globally, women hold only about 24% of computing jobs, according to the American Enterprise Institute – a statistic that has in fact been decreasing, more or less steadily, over the past several decades.
Gender equity and representation is a significant issue not only in the computing and software development field, but in the greater business world as well. Recently, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works hosted Networking@Rev: Empowering the Ecosystem, an event dedicated to discussing and promoting gender equity in business and entrepreneurship, which I decided to attend. I learned a lot, and had a great time – here are some of the things I took from the evening.
The main event of the evening was a discussion panel, which was led by Andrea Ippolito (CEO and founder of SimpliFed) and featuring Elisa Miller-Out of Chloe Capital, Heather Sandford of The Piggery, and Madison Savilow of Carbon Upcycling. During the conversation, Miller-Out touched on why companies should invest in women, as well as members of other underrepresented groups, such as people of color. She pointed out that hiring and investing in women is not just “the right thing to do” – it is crucial for the vitality both of businesses and of the world as a whole, since bringing many different perspectives to the table is essential to addressing problems that affect many different kinds of people (which are usually some of the most pressing and important problems to solve).
“It is absolutely good business; it is not charity. This is the way to drive the biggest returns. It’s also the way to solve the world’s biggest problems.” – Elisa Miller-Out
From both a commercial and social perspective, it is clearly in the interest of businesses to support women and BIPOC individuals through investing and hiring practices, and it is in the interest of consumers to use their purchasing power to support companies that have a diverse staff. This purchasing power is not insignificant, as Sandford noted.
“We can move the needle by the product choices that we make… if we support businesses that we know have great practices, those concentric circles really grow and have an impact. That’s the biggest and fastest way that we can affect policy.” – Heather Sandford
All in all, the discussion was enlightening. Conversations like these – and the actions that follow from them – are crucial to ensuring a better future not just for women in male-dominated industries, not just for companies in those industries, but for everyone in the world.