Everyone wants to know where the women are in technology and what can be done to draw them to the field. What is the magic solution? At Symantec, we’re taking on the challenge of attracting more women to technology from a variety of angles.
We start when they’re young by encouraging not only girls but all children to study STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – in grade school and college, and to pursue STEM as a career. We believe providing STEM education to children and young adults is a business imperative in order to build a diversified and innovative workforce for the future.
Symantec puts its money where its mouth is. According to our FY13 Corporate Responsibility Report , 46 percent of our corporate giving in FY13 went toward education, which largely includes STEM initiatives.
If we can encourage more women to consider STEM professions, we’ll be doing the U.S. economy a favor. We’ll help fill the STEM shortage in this country and put women in jobs where they’ll earn 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs, according to National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
Despite more job opportunities and better pay, why aren’t more women going down the STEM road? This conundrum has been discussed over and over. According to a 2012 CNET Women in Tech panel, it’s because women need more role models – not just those like Marissa Mayer or Meg Whitman, but also women executives who are approachable in everyday situations.
That’s where the Symantec Women’s Action Network (SWAN) comes in. It provides a comfortable networking environment where women can build relationships and share information with other women of all levels throughout the company. At Symantec, you’ll see a good proportion of women in leadership roles. We’re proud that the number of women in leadership at Symantec is up from 25 percent to 27 percent, matching the 27 percent of overall employees who are women.
These numbers are consistent with women’s representation in the tech industry as a whole. Women make up 57 percent of the professional occupations in the U.S. workforce, but only 26 percent of those in the computing workforce are female (according to NCWIT). To increase the number of women in leadership and technical positions at the company, Symantec has committed to a proactive, deliberate approach to create systemic change.
We have an active recruitment program aimed at getting more women in the door. Symantec participates in diversity events, university relations, internal mentoring and other similar strategies intended to attract qualified women – as well as other minorities – to seek employment in positions with Symantec. For example, Symantec has sponsored the TechWoman program (an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)) since its first year, supporting professional mentorship and exchange programs for women in IT from the Middle East and North Africa. All of these programs help us to build a diverse pool of qualified individuals from which to select the very best talent.
Charmy Ruparel is Symantec's Program Manager, Diversity and Inclusion.