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The Future of Women in the IT Workforce

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Companies Leaning In To Attract and Promote The Next Generation of Talent

Women’s History Month in March offers a great opportunity to recognize and draw inspiration from the many women pioneers in the computer science and information technology fields. Those include Hollywood actress Heddy Lamar, who pioneered the technology that would one day form the basis for today's Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems; and the “hidden” women of NASA, female African-American mathematicians who made it possible to launch U.S. rockets – and astronauts – into space (Mary Jackson (1921-2005), Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) and Dorothy Vaughan (1910-2008).

Despite the many contributions of women in computer science, technology, telecommunications, and other fields, significant gaps still exist in representation of women in the IT industry. 

According to a report by the World Bank, women are drastically underrepresented in technology-related fields globally, accounting for less than a third of total workers.

Despite the obvious – that women make up approximately half of the U.S. population – the report notes that women occupy only 28% of all employment opportunities in computer sciences and mathematics. Even at what some consider to be the most progressive tech giants, the proportion of women has risen only slightly over the years to 34% (as of 2022).

One of the “unicorns” of this decade, Pax8, a fast growing B2B cloud marketplace that exceeded a valuation of $1B last year, launched a month-long initiative in March, highlighting successful women leaders throughout the company in social media updates and launching a new Pax8 Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG).

“We are highly intentional when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging,” said Lori Frasier, Pax8 Chief People Officer, Americas. “This month, as part of our celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8 and Women’s History Month, we are shining the light on many of the talented women leaders within Pax8, who lead by example, while continuing to be an active participant in many industry focused events and organizations for women in the channel.”

From Pax8’s headquarters in Denver, Frasier said one of the exciting programs underway at the company involves building a diverse workforce with tech career opportunities in rural areas of Colorado.

“We are cultivating a new pool of tech talent in our home state by actively engaging with and mentoring the next generation of women leaders in tech, through our program in rural Colorado.”

Last month, Pax8’s Ashlie Arnold, Information Systems and Analytics Manager, was named DEI & Talent Champion of the Year by the Colorado Technology Association. She was recognized for her leadership of the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program, which includes a hybrid/remote work environment for 45 Pax8 employees who live and work in eight rural Colorado communities. Of those employees, 36 percent are women employed in a tech role.

“There is a lot more work to do,” Frasier said, “but we are proud of our track record at Pax8. With our recruiting and retention programs for women, the gap continues to narrow. Approximately 33% of Pax8 Americas employees are women, 36% of our mid-level professionals are women, and 39% of executive and senior level professionals are women.”

“Pax8 has a very healthy and inclusive culture.  We understand that it is just good business to attract top female talent, provide them career advancement opportunities and ensure pay equity in all the markets we serve,” Frasier said. “We enjoy much higher retention than the averages in our industry, so hiring strong diverse talent is an investment that continues to pay off.  Pax8’s growth is driven by our people.  Our partners appreciate the consistent extraordinary Pax8 experience created by our team members, and they want to partner with companies who share common values.”

Over the past few years, several studies have shown a link between gender diversity and profitability. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability, and both company profits and share performance can be almost 50 percent higher when women are well represented at the top.

There is a multiplier effect when highly capable women choose their next company  based on the number of women in senior management; another recent survey found that 61 percent of women look at the gender diversity of the prospective employer’s leadership team. With more women in top roles, more talented women can be hired, creating a virtuous cycle, helping women advance in the workplace.

“When women connect with other women in increasingly global social networks, and through great organizations like Women of the Channel,  Alliance of Channel Women, Women in Technology, and Women in Dynamics, those connections run deep, and lead to business growth, exciting initiatives and innovations,” Frasier said.

“The future of work is now,” Frasier said. “All companies are tech companies in some way, they are connected by high-speed networks, utilize advanced applications and are powered by the cloud.  Women in any profession, from teaching, to medicine, to astronautics, are women in tech.  We want to play a meaningful role in helping our industry attract and retain a truly diverse workforce and cultivate a culture of inclusion and belonging for talent from all backgrounds and genders.  Women are leading the way in driving change not only for other women, but for other underrepresented populations.  With commitment to both short- and long-term change, Pax8 is making progress and we are excited to see our industry increasing its focus on equity and inclusion.”
Juhi Fadia is an engineer, analyst, researcher and writer covering advanced and emerging technologies.

Edited by Erik Linask
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