As such, Real Business talked to some inspiring female leaders to find out what they saw in their crystal ball’s for 2016.“My hope for girls and women in tech in 2016 is that we continue to build and expand upon the current progress that has happened over the last three years,” said Tracey Rossman, founder of TechGirlz. And according to Welson Rossman, head of marketing at Chariot Solutions, having more companies, leaders, media, parents, teachers, girls and women understand the importance of training, teaching, encouraging and supporting girls and women in all aspects of innovation and technology will help move the needle faster and sooner. Rossman suggested, however, that patience will be vital as moving the needle faster may not necessarily be as quick as some would help. Nonetheless, it would be progress. Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani has claimed that waiting has paid off as the organisation has now taught over 10,000 young women software coding skills and ensured over 20 large companies have pledged and will share paid internships with its students. Saujani said the pledge was “the surest sign yet that the sector is ready to close the gender gap in its workforce”. AT&T executive director Stephanie Lynch-Habib explained that the firm was participating in the pledge, and that “the opportunity to improve results is driving greater interest” from girls and women to enter the industry. She added: “I hope and expect that 2016 will continue the amazing trajectory of women in technology coming to the forefront – helping to further chip away at the gender gap in the tech sector. Such positive forces include grass-roots, girls-in-STEM initiatives, the amazing feats and examples of women tech leaders, and the proliferation of social media, mobile devices and now the Internet of Things .” JJ DiGeronimo, president of Tech Savvy Women, is of the belief that any shift in the gender gap would need to be quantified if we were to keep up the current pace. “What has truly resonated for me and will likely determine the success of initiatives over the next decade is organisations that make women, in tech and related careers, a priority at all levels – not just getting them into college programs but hiring, retaining and growing them into highly productive professionals,” she said. “Without goals and related accountability, it is easy to make little to no progress in these areas.” Alicia Syrett, the founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital claimed that accountability was going to be key in 2016. “We all have responsibility to call out industry panels and conferences which don’t include enough women, hold organisations accountable in addressing biases and discrimination, and demand transparency and change on issues like paid leave, equal pay, and representation on boards,” she said. Rossman added: “We need to continue to look at all aspects of the lifecycle of women in tech and better understand the leaks. Some are being addressed, but more work and action plans need to be formulated.” Concerned with issues surrounding gender diversity in business? Don’t miss the Real Business First Women programme: Drawing on years of the First Women movement and the phenomenal network of pioneering women the Awards has created, this programme features The First Women Awards and The First Women Summit – designed to educate, mentor and inspire women in all levels of business.
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