By Tara Wisniewski, Senior Vice President of Global Affairs at ISACA® and SheLeadsTech Program Lead
The SheLeadsTech program has progressed from pilot (Connecting Women Leaders in Technology) to program launch in 2 years’ time. The next big step for SheLeadsTech is to stretch beyond the borders of ISACA. In the coming year and in the future, we will look to increase our efforts to reach a broader audience with new research, increased advocacy and working in partnerships with organizations such as AnitaB.org.
The program serves many women with very different backgrounds, but we all share a purpose. Our SheLeadsTech community believes advocating women in technology is an important issue and one where we can bring about substantive change. It is not easy to deliver change when we are trying to build the plane while flying it. But this simply means we need to manage expectations of what we can deliver while still being bold in our program development and rigorous about metrics.
We owe a lot of the program’s current success to our global community. They have really embraced this program and that has been a game changer this year. One year ago, we had a handful of chapters that expressed interest or were holding SheLeadsTech events. By the end of 2018, we have more than 50 chapters working on programs and more than 10,000 people engaged. We can also attribute current success to strong support from the ISACA Board of Directors and the dedicated work of staff and volunteers.
In the future, I would like to see SheLeadsTech lead in bringing more women into the tech work space and the program be the beacon for discussions about the need for diversity of thought in technology innovation. Developing and implementing advocacy initiatives to address gender disparities can be difficult, and a key challenge is the willingness for organizations to truly engage in the discussion. Often, organizations embrace the idea of addressing gender disparity fairly easily, but when it comes to the work, they hit obstacles. There can be a lack of understanding of what an advocacy initiative is, recurring questions about why the organization is doing it and a habit to review the success of initiatives such as this in the same way that we assess revenue-driving activity. The bottom line is this work is difficult—on many levels—and organizations need to be ready to test, fail, innovate, challenge and commit. This is much easier said than done.
All this being said, as we look forward to 2019, women’s engagement in the industry remains a critical topic and as we see the gap of the number of qualified professionals increase, my hope is that ISACA can invest in more programs such as SheLeadsTech as a way to fulfill our mission and broaden our reach.