What do we want?
We want to create a network for women in IT that arranges regular inspirational events and raises the awareness of the possibilities, attractiveness and diversity of the IT-industry. WiTech will be a natural place for women to develop their competence and skills, and also be able to share their competence and skills with other women.
We also have a strong commitment to inspire the next generation of girls to join the IT-industry or choose an IT-education. WiTech also aims to create female role models who can show the diversity of IT and inspire young girls.
How did it begin?
Due to an over representation of men within the IT-industry and a lack of female role models, a lot of women often feel alone in the industry. There are still a lot of stereotypical thoughts and prejudices about what kind of people that works with IT. Usually, this stereotypical person is a male developer.
The number of IT related education programs are increasing as well as the number of applicants, but the number of female applicants are still relatively low. Sweden, compared to other parts of the world, has a much lower share of women in IT related programs and professions.
The idea for the network comes from the increasing demand and interest in connecting women working with IT and to create a platform that enables this. The women engaged in the network so far have a strong will to inspire the next generation of women to choose an IT related education program or profession. We want to show the next generation of girls the variety of roles within the field and present female role models to look up to.
Why should you support us?
To this date there are 128 registered women in the network from Växjö and Kalmar in Sweden. The women in the network represent different higher education establishments, students, municipality's and over 30 businesses in the region. The large number of women that are engaged in the network so far shows that there is a need to meet and share a common platform. We want to make this network work long term and in a sustainable way. Here are some examples of what your contribution could support:
- Build a solid platform for the network to grow from
- Arrange meetings for networking and knowledge exchange
- Create inspirational events and conferences
- Seminars and worskhops at local schools
- Participate as exhibitor at events
- Marketing material
- Eventually maybe get a project manager for the network
- Support the expansion of WiTech into other cities
WiTech has four main goals
At WiTech's kick-off, 24th of November, approximenty 60 women joined and participated in a workshop in which they got to express what the network should work with. We got 58 answers and from these we could easy see a pattern leading us to our four goals.
Meeting place to network
– Create a chance for women from different orientations within IT to meet and expand their networks, both socially and to create new work related possibilities
Knowledge exchange and development of competence
– Share knowledge, competence and updates between researchers, students and professionals within the network.
– Inspirational events and conferences for the women in the network. Inspire industry, parents, teachers and guidance counselors.
Inspire next generation of girls to IT
- Show young girls the diversity and attractiveness in IT.
What makes us different from other networks?
There are networks in Sweden that aims to inspire women within IT, for example #addher (created by Sogeti) and Sigma Smart Women Society (created by Sigma). Unlike these networks, WiTech is not bound to any company which makes this network open for everyone and takes away boundaries that some might feel towards other companies.
WiTech brings women from higher education establishments together with companies and public sector. This reduces the gap between the public and private sector in Växjö/Kalmar. It also gives female students a great opportunity to meet and get inspired by women in the IT-industry, but also future work opportunities.
The agenda and the goals are created by the women in the network. The women in WiTech are building this network together because they see a need for it. This network is created with the leading words: By us for us.
Risks and challenges
One risk is that when the hype about the network settles in the region, there will be less involvement from the women within the activities and the network will die out. The most important thing to prevent this is to get as many of the women in the network as possibly to be actively involved in planning and implementing activities. By working strongly with social media, we are showing all the good things we do and how we are making changes, this creates motivation for the need of the network. We also want to keep having events for the women to attend. We have been asked to expand the network into other regions in Sweden, we really want this for the future but first we need to build a strong platform in Växjö/Kalmar. Over time we can grow and expand and this will hopefully create a strong brand to connect with.
Another risk is to not get through to the girls at schools and that one of our target groups does not attend our events for them due to prejudices. We have been working hard to start cooperation with the different schools in Växjö/Kalmar. Many schools have been positive to our network and what we do. We have been invited to lecture at some of the schools. But it has still been difficulties to reach the girls to attend event created for them that are not a part of their regular education or mandatory. We have now decided to invite the girls who have shown interest to become student ambassadors at the schools. This will help us with marketing of the events and to reach out to the social channels the girls are using. This will also be a great opportunity for the student ambassador to get to know and get mentors from a lot of business women and researchers in the region.
Since the work being done now is based on volunteering, there is a risk the same people doing everything and that the work load becoming overwhelming to handle after normal working hours. Plans of a steering group have been made and this will help dividing the work among a larger group of women. One task is to decide how the network can move forward and who will work with what. The steering group will decided if there is a need to get a project manager and how that would be financed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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