Mark your calendars for Women’s History Month, an annual event that includes International Women’s Day (IWD), Sunday, March 8, 2020. IWD is celebrated in many countries as a day to recognize women for their achievements without regard to national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, or political divisions. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await generations of women. (For more information about the history of International Women’s Day, visit the United Nations.)
Do Your Part: Join the Celebration
Host an activity or event — whether virtually or in-person — that acknowledges the impacts of diversity on innovation; honors and highlights technical women; and promotes ways to mitigate barriers to women’s participation in technology:
Raise awareness about the role male (or other majority-group) allies can play in increasing diverse participation in technical workplaces. Why male or majority-group allies? Since increasing diverse participation impacts all of us, as well as the business, we should all come together to work on them. // The Male Allies and Advocates Toolkit can help set the stage for success: ncwit.org/ma-toolkit.
Organize a listening party to tune in to Black women in computing. Geared toward women of color in STEM, especially high school and college students, “Modern Figures Podcast” guest stars Black women in computing who share their stories and perspectives on technical, societal, and personal topics. // Listen or subscribe: modernfigurespodcast.com/subscribe-to-podcast/. (This podcast is produced in collaboration with the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences [iAAMCS], a national resource for all African-American computer science students and faculty, and NCWIT.)
Host dialogs about inclusion with Sit With Me (SWM). The iconic SWM red chair is sure to get people talking about how technical women are changing what’s possible in technological innovation. Host a photo shoot, or place a red chair in your office, for example. // Visit sitwithme.org to get started. Share event highlights on social media with the hashtag #SitWithMe.
Keep the Celebration Going Year Round
However you choose to observe Women’s History Month, avoid considering it as a one-shot occasion. NCWIT offers hundreds of programs, platforms, tips, and tools to help advocates like you increase the meaningful and inflectional participation of technical women year round:
Amplify why gender diversity is important in computing. Gender-balanced and gender-diverse technology organizations and departments: perform better financially, particularly when women occupy a significant proportion of top management positions; demonstrate superior team dynamics and productivity; produce work teams that stay on schedule and under budget; and demonstrate improved employee performance. Additionally, gender diversity expands the qualified employee pool, promotes equality, and reflects the customer base. (Reviews strategies to maximize the potential benefits of gender diversity on technical teams: ncwit.org/businesscase.)
Increase the visibility of technical women. Managers or supervisors, for example, can identify and recommend women for top leadership roles, market their value and technical ability, and more. Find more recommendations in “Top 10 Ways Managers Can Increase the Visibility of Technical Women,” available at ncwit.org/top10visibilitymanagers.
Address key barriers to women’s participation in technology. Implicit bias contributes to underrepresentation in computing both in subtle, everyday instances and institutional barriers. Implicit bias is not about blame or about fixing people; it is about taking the effort to recognize these biases and taking action to address them. “Women in Tech: The Facts” covers how: ncwit.org/thefacts.
Find these resources and more research-based, practical tips at ncwit.org/resources.