Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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May 5, 2016

IT-Ready tackles under-representation of women in the tech industry by offering gender-centric class

WomenOnlyClassIt is no secret that men disproportionately comprise the IT industry. A recent Cyberstates report showed that men comprise 66 percent of employees working in the tech field.

The real secret is how to change those statistics.

One approach is to make it easier for women to pursue the training and knowledge needed to secure IT careers. The Creating IT Futures Foundation recently began a free, women-only class of its signature IT-Ready program as part of the City of MinneapolisTechHire initiative.

IT-Ready trains and certifies information technology (IT) workers and helps place them into their first paid role. To close the workforce skills gap in the high-tech economy, the TechHire Initiative enables diverse workers to access training, support and tech jobs across the greater Minneapolis region.

The class is hosted by the EMERGE Career & Technology Center on the north side of Minneapolis and funded by the City of Minneapolis Employment and Training; The Minneapolis Foundation’s Community Action Fund, North Star Fund and Paul and Mary Reyelts Fund; and the Women’s Endowment Fund, a designated fund of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation.

Since its start in 2013, IT-Ready has been offered free of charge in order to help unemployed and under-employed individuals enter the IT field.

The women-only class began April 11 and runs every weekday until June 3. The class consists of eight black women, two Hispanic women, four multi-racial women and six white women. All are residents of Minneapolis.

Kathy Brennan, manager of IT-Ready in Minneapolis, said that camaraderie among class participants was almost immediate.

“In previous IT-Ready cohorts, it takes some time for participants to get to know each other,” she said. “With the women-only group, they started interacting immediately with such positive energy. Within the first week, they had already formed carpools. They care for one another and want to see each other succeed.”

Sue Wallace, executive director of the Minnesota Creating IT Futures Foundation, agreed.

“The level of questions, energy and active engagement from these participants seems to be much higher than what we see when women are part of a coed group,” she said.

Since IT-Ready was established in Minneapolis / St. Paul in 2012, more than 200 individuals have graduated from IT-Ready, Wallace said. Eighty-eight percent earned their CompTIA A+ certification and 88 percent of certified graduates moved into paid IT roles with area companies.

As part of their IT-Ready training, students get hands-on labs taking apart and building desktop computers and other hardware; learn about motherboards, printers, peripheral devices, memory and physical storage, connections and mobile devices; set up computer networks and troubleshoot networks, displays, printers, and operating systems; configure operating systems and hardware; and secure networks, systems and data.

IT-Ready students also receive targeted professional development in key business “soft” skills such as professional communication and presentation, teamwork and collaboration, and critical thinking and problem solving.

The Creating IT Futures Foundation is the philanthropic arm of CompTIA, the voice of the world’s IT industry, and has a mission of helping populations under-represented in IT — as well as individuals who are lacking in opportunity — to prepare for, secure, and be successful in IT careers.