Women in Tech at InRhythm has always been an evolving group that has taken different shapes to meet the needs of its members, but throughout we’ve always recognized the importance of women in tech and the need for representation. For a while, our leaders were stuck in a rut on the direction of the group, so we returned to the original mission statement from the group’s founding:
“Women and non-binary people are alarmingly underrepresented in technology. The Elephant in the Valley survey found that 84% of women ‘have been told they are too aggressive,’ and ‘60% of women in tech reported unwanted sexual advances.’ Queer, non-binary, trans people, and women of color experience pay disparity, discrimination, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexual harassment in the workplace.
At InRhythm, we want to provide our female and non-binary engineers, designers, and operations professionals with a network and support system as they learn and grow. We aim to develop programs and initiatives that will help our team integrate and communicate with one another.
The goal of this community is to facilitate communication between women and non-binary members of IR across clients, and to create a safe space to talk about issues we may experience specific to our identities.”
In our quest to move fast and evolve constantly, it’s easy to forget to take a moment to see what’s at the heart of what we’re working towards. Returning to our mission provides an important grounding and realigns our vision going forward. All that said, we’ll be continuing to align ourselves around our mission to continue to move the needle on the issues that are important to our members.
One of the biggest issues the Women in Tech community has been trying to address is increasing our membership numbers here at InRhythm. Driving change here involves commitment at all levels: one, in the hiring process and the people we recruit, but also in the foundation we create for future women to enter the field. Young girls and women are dissuaded and disillusioned from pursuing careers in development—and involvement in STEM in general—due to systemic factors, gender biases, and disparities in the workplace.
We know there’s an issue, so how do we solve the problem? Women in Tech is taking a proactive approach, creating future initiatives with the aim of starting ripple effects that turn into waves. Our partnerships, with organizations like Girls Who Code, is one path to reaching young girls and women to open up their minds to the possibility of careers in software development. The group has reached over 90,000 girls in just six years through initiatives like local clubs and immersion programs, providing critical opportunities for girls to see themselves represented in the field and get hands-on experience in this exciting industry.
Through our research, we know that one of the primary challenges that girls face in pursuing computer science as a career is a lack of female role models. Girls are more likely to grow up to be innovators themselves if they have access to women already in the field, underscoring the importance of representation, mentorship, and self-image. The Women In Tech Lesson Plans introduce middle school students to female role models and spark the interest of girls to pursue an education in computer science.
Investing in and bringing in prominent speakers will also help to inspire not just the InRhythm community, but external Women in Tech members within other local chapters. A special shout-out to Sandro, our Web Practice Lead and Brian, a senior engineer, for mentioning Compassionate Coding co-founder April Wensel. She has been in the software industry for many years and has tried and tested different solutions to harness the power of kindness and compassion through her company.
Changing the status quo when it comes to gender representation can be a monumental task, but by laying the groundwork for the future and reaching out to the young girls who are would-be women in tech, we can enact lasting change. Gender disparity is a difficult chicken-and-egg problem to solve, but in our experience, the women of InRhythm are proactive, exceptional leaders and we believe there is room for everyone in the development space. If we continue to encourage STEM-field participation and support fellow women in the field, we know the next generation will rise to the challenge.