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On Friday, Microsoft announced that it had donated $1 million to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. I was at Seattle University at the Future Potential in IT seminar where this was announced and got to say a few words on behalf of NCWIT to the 500 people (mostly students – about 25% women) that were there.
I’ve been chairman of NCWIT for the past 18 months and this marks a huge milestone for us. A year ago Avaya partnered with NCWIT at the $1 million level, making them NCWIT’s first “investment partner.” While we have a great workforce alliance, Microsoft has stepped up in a huge way and is showing real leadership with our organization as our most recent investment partner.
As I’ve mentioned in the past on the blog, NCWIT is addressing an issue much larger than simply the obvious gender imbalance in the field of information technology and computer science. There is a growing demand / supply gap in the US and we are now entering a time where – as a country – we run the risk of becoming less competitive in this critical area because of a lack of qualified IT and computer science professionals. There simply aren’t enough men interested in this area to fill demand – as a result, it behooves us to encourage women to enter this field. In addition, as computers become increasingly pervasive throughout everything we do, it has always made intellectual sense to me that women be as involved in the creation and implementation of the technology as men.
Thank you Microsoft for showing real leadership in this area. And – thank you to the many people at Microsoft that worked behind the scenes to make this happen.