Why so few women in Colorado tech?
Despite outreach and activism, there remains a noticeable lack of skilled female tech talent
According to the Colorado Technology Association, women occupy nearly 24 percent of the IT work force in the state today. CTA's president and CEO Andrea Young says it is important to get more girls into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs in schools. Later, when women graduate and enter the work force, they should be encouraged to return if they exit temporarily.
"If you are within a tech-based role in an organization, if you are thinking you are about to leave, why can't the company have a conversation around that?" Young asks.
There remains a shortage of skilled tech workers to fill jobs, she adds, and a more diversified work force could meet that demand.
CTA offers programs such as the annual Women in Tech conference and the Million Women Mentors.
Another factor is the "bro culture" associated with the tech sector, says Natty Zola, managing director of Techstars Boulder. "Think about how opportunities such as internships and jobs often present themselves," he says. "Much of it comes from relationships and networking based on commonalities."
But those shared traits and experiences must be presented and explored.
Perhaps it would help if there were more outreach to diverse groups.
"We, in the tech industry, need to work with partner organizations to reach the demographics we would like to include in an intentional and genuine way," Zola says. "That means redesigning our interview processes to weed out unconscious bias and creating more inclusive company cultures."
Techstars recently completed a research project with Chase for Business. The survey of 700 tech startup founders worldwide found that 81 percent say diversity enhances creativity and innovation, and 63 percent say that a diverse work force provides greater access to talent.
For its 2017 Boulder program, Techstars recruited a diverse group, with five companies from Colorado, two from New York, and one each from Atlanta, Austin, Canada, Los Angeles, Portugal and San Francisco.
Also, 77 percent of the company founders have diverse backgrounds based on gender, ethnicity, nationality, race or age.