By Kathryn Magura
This past July, I was sent to a training on the door access system we use on our campus. I was prepared to spend four full days learning the intricacies of this system, but what I was not prepared for was being the sole female in the 20-person training group. The shock was represented in the following Tweet:
Throughout the training, I was very cognizant of the fact that I was the only female in the room. In some ways, I think that pushed me to do well in the class. I knew on some level I was representing other women, and our ability to be competent in the realm of technology. I did not want to be the reason anyone in the training went back to their place of employment questioning why women would work with technology. If anything, I wanted to be the reason they asked why more women were not represented in the field of technology.
As I have had time to reflect on my experience since returning home from the training, it has been very salient on my mind that there aren’t many women who work with technology, both on college campuses and out in the “real world”. Why is this? What keeps women from pursing careers in information technology?
For me, I happened upon working in information technology almost by accident. During my undergraduate days, I studied Psychology, and took as few computer science classes as possible. I could use a computer, but the intricacies of all the systems at play that made them run were pretty foreign to me. When I started my career as a housing Assignments Coordinator after graduating, I soon delved into the world of utilizing technology to enhance the housing assignment process. I found that I picked up on systems and the strategy behind making those systems work together very well. I seemed to have a bit of intuition on how to operate information systems, and had the ability to articulate these functions to others. I am fortunate that my work experience has allowed me to stumble upon this gift. If I had not pushed myself to learn something I used to fear, I may never have identified this strength.
So to other women working in higher education, I would like to throw out a challenge: How competent do you feel utilizing new technologies in higher education? What is holding you back from becoming a leader in information technology within higher education? How can we support each other as we take on the challenges of information technology?