Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Push to Change Face of Industry

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Push to Change Face of Industry

Article excerpt

to information technology careers

Information technology professionals from across the state gathered at Essex County College in Newark on Thursday to attend a forum run by non-profit advocacy group Wider Opportunities for Women to discuss ways to increase the number of women in IT, a burgeoning part of the economy.

At the New Jersey Forum on Women in Information Technology, employers and educators from across the state spoke about programs to help aspiring techies and improve business practices to help make IT more attractive to women.

Women make up 26 percent of the IT workforce, according to Nancy Steffen-Fluhr, director of the Murray Center for Women in Technology and an associate professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

To Gale Gibson, president of Essex County College, solutions need to start as early as kindergarten to create a culture that views IT as a viable option for young girls, as opposed to an untraditional career path.

"As a woman who is a former IBMer, I understand the low percentage of women in IT," said Gibson in her opening remarks. "We are moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go."

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women hold the majority of jobs in two computer and IT-related occupations: word processors and typists (94 percent) and data-entry keyers (81 percent). Median earnings in those two areas barely top $600 per week. At higher-paying positions such as software developers, applications and systems software -- where median earnings are $1,700 a week -- women represent 20 percent of the workforce.

Opportunities are expected to increase, with the number of software developer and applications jobs forecast to grow 22.8 percent between 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS.

In order to address shortages in the IT industry, federal grants have been awarded on local and national levels. …

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