Women in Tech

At the May 2022 ACPE annual conference, the board hosted a Women in Tech session facilitated by Jennifer Clouser, Cheri Rhinhart, and Rachel Wente-Chaney. The room was full. And, the stories and observations had a common theme: the gender imbalance in K-12 technology teams is real. We left with a number of ideas and a call to action.

We invite you to join us as the ACPE Women in Tech cohort forms this spring. One of our first tasks is to co-create our mission, framework, principles, and how we’ll do this work and celebrate together. We’ll see you there.

You are Invited

All are welcome. We are making space for all who identify as women in the core WiT group. There is also a group for all allies, where we invite our male and gender expansive colleagues to partner with us in this work.

The invitation form opens Friday, March 10.

The Issue and Why It Matters

We polled the 40+ districts represented in the room that day about the gender composition of their technical teams. No one raised their hand at the prompt of more than 50% female. There were several who raised their hands for more than 25%. A majority raised their hands at less than 25%. This number tracks with attendance and membership in ACPE. The 2023 annual conference registration includes 23.97% women. And it also matches the US national percentages. (You can view the full infographic at https://ncwit.org/resource/bythenumbers/.)

a graphic titled By The Numbers that indicates only 26% of computing occupations in the US are held by women.

That’s the quantitative storyline—numbers and stats that don’t look ideal. But, do they matter? The answer in the room that day was yes. Being one woman in a group of 5-10 male peers in a meeting is not uncommon. Having two or three women in a meeting of 20+ is also not rare. Many in the room expressed fondness and respect for male colleagues in our region and in ACPE…and still a persistent sense of being sidelined or overlooked in groups.

More broadly, this imbalance shows up in other outcomes.

Powerful Tech Stats For International Women’s Day (Forbes, March 7, 2023):

When employees “think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included”, innovation revenue increases by 83%, source: Deloitte.

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity – 15% more likely to outperform competitors. Those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity – 35% more likely to outperform competitors, source: McKinsey.

An inclusive organisation is 2x as likely to exceed financial targets, 3x as likely to be high-performing, 6x more likely to be agile and innovative, and 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes, source: Deloitte.

ACPE sits in a unique intersection of this issue. We are a professional organization of technologists that includes educators teaching the next generation of women in tech. Our membership supports innovation and business+education outcomes in each of our organizations. Can we 10x our impact?

ACPE Women in Tech (WiT)

Past, present, and future. At events across the Pacific Northwest the past two decades.

Thanks to excellent notetakers, we left the session with lists.

Our Questions

  • How do we nurture female leadership?
  • How does ACPE take a leadership role in our region and nationally with our partner organizations?
  • How do we maintain interest in technology into middle school high school, i.e. esports and technology clubs?
  • How do we change the future?

Our Ideas

This is a small sample of our larger list:

  • Mentoring (highest value during the 2022 conversation)
  • Recruiting earlier
  • STEM programs and Girls who Code
  • ACPE event dedicated to Women in Tech
  • Paid internships, with partnership with local colleges/community colleges
  • CoSN CETL scholarship opportunities for women
  • Allyship, with our male peers building culture around helping each other to increase inclusion & belonging and eliminating stereotypes
  • Interview coaching and resume reviews

Our To-Do List

  • Convening a Women in Tech cohort
  • Determining ACPE’s role in this issue
  • Creating spaces for continued work and conversation
  • Building a long-term strategy for making positive change

We hope you’ll join us.

Our Convening Sponsor

OETC logo

Thank you to OETC for its generous support in this inaugural year of ACPE Women in Tech. OETC is a trusted partner for school districts and technology leaders throughout the ACPE region.