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Why Tech Outreach Programmes are a win-win for companies & women

Manager mentoring young intern in tech, Tech Outreach Programme concept

ARTICLE SUMMARY

With women making up just 19% of the tech workforce, the industry has long suffered from the limitations of a lack of gender diversity – a consistently missed opportunity to tap into unrecognised talent.

THE GENDER IMBALANCE OF THE TECH INDUSTRY IS WELL DOCUMENTED.

Tech outreach programs play a crucial role in achieving gender diversity in the tech world, as they’re not just about putting women in tech positions; they’re about creating entry points to the industry that are specifically designed to nurture growth and success.

The ripple effect of such programs goes much further than the individual, with companies benefitting from the plethora of alternative perspectives and experiences that diversity brings to the table. Not only will such organisations become a more interesting and tolerant place to work, but they’ll benefit from better problem-solving and more robust innovation to boot.

Caitlin Nowlin, Tech Outreach Program Manager, Hyland

In essence, these programs lay the foundation for future tech breakthroughs. So: what do these programs look like? Caitlin Nowlin, Tech Outreach Program Manager, Hyland explores more in this article.

Caitlin leads Hyland’s efforts to design, develop and implement successful Tech Outreach programs, the goal of which is to achieve Hyland’s mission of building and inspiring careers in technology.

Through Caitlin and her team’s efforts, Hyland’s Tech Outreach programs give students the opportunity to learn about computer science while giving employees the opportunity to give back to the community in a skills-based way.

STARTING OUT

The answer to that depends on the age of women that companies are looking to equip for the tech market. School-age children are the first to see outreach programmes, as companies look to nurture curiosity in young talent and share the myriad opportunities awaiting them in the tech world.

For the female tech talent of tomorrow, it’s extremely important to be made aware of the women excelling in tech roles. Proving that it’s a field that they belong in and can succeed in can have a huge impact on, for example, chosen GCSEs and A-Levels – which will in turn unlock further education opportunities that lead them to tech roles.

As young women progress through their education, funding becomes available to that end. Offering scholarships to study a technology-based degree at university encourages them to pursue the STEM route without the intimidating cost of specialised subjects.

Alternatively, for women wanting to make a career change, grant schemes are a game changer. These grants can fund participation in coding bootcamps – rapid-fire courses in coding and other critical tech skills. These bootcamps are especially attractive to women who are looking to pivot their careers quickly or want to gain a competitive edge in the job market, providing hands-on experience that can be directly applied to real-world tech challenges.

ENTERING THE WORKPLACE

On the other side of these initiatives is the workplace itself – but outreach problems don’t stop at the point of hire. In the fiercely competitive tech labour market, attracting and retaining top talent is a priority for companies. Company-driven outreach programs attract highly skilled women who might otherwise look elsewhere for opportunities.

A key part of these initiatives is mentorship programs, pairing seasoned professionals with new hires or junior roles. Mentors are both allies and advisors, sharing their experiences, helping women navigate the complex landscape of tech, and offering a much-needed confidence boost to their mentees.

For women, these programs are more than just pathways into tech. They equip women with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the industry, while fostering a network of supporters and advocates. Being able to rely upon allyship is important support in overcoming the hurdles that can deter women from entering tech fields, such as confidence issues or a lack of role models.

REACH OUT TO OUTREACH

So: how does one put themselves on this path?

If you’re a woman aspiring to a tech career, there are key steps to maximise the benefits of tech outreach programs. Start by researching the various available programs to find one that suits your needs. Proactivity is key – reach out to companies and organizations offering these initiatives to express your interest. And remember, persistence is your friend. If your first-choice program doesn’t work out, there will be other opportunities to explore.

For those eager to start or support tech outreach programs, there are several avenues to explore. Donations to organisations offering these programs help sustain and expand their reach. Partnering with these organisations to develop tailored initiatives is another way to make a meaningful impact. Volunteering your time to tech outreach programs allows you to directly engage with and inspire aspiring women in tech. And providing mentorship opportunities is a direct way to give back to the community and contribute to a more diverse, inclusive, and innovative tech sector.

Tech outreach programs are invaluable resources for women looking to thrive in a male-dominated industry. They offer the skills, knowledge, and support needed for success. Additionally, these initiatives contribute to creating a more inclusive work environment, cultivating innovation, and preparing the tech industry for the future as the demand for tech workers continues to rise.

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