November 7th dinner will celebrate progress with area women in tech positions and leadership, over $200K awarded in scholarships
For Immediate Release
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 29, 2019) - On November 7, 2019, Women in Technology of Tennessee (WiTT) will host its 20 Years of WiTT Benefit Dinner at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Nashville headquarters from 5-8 p.m.
Co-hosted by two of WiTT’s original founders, Tracy Evers, regional sales manager at Check Point Software Technologies, and Theresa Zuckowsky, enterprise program manager at BMI, the evening will also feature retrospectives from other prominent IT professionals and leaders with the organization and from throughout the community.
WiTT was founded in 1999 because several Nashville-area women working in technology roles each found themselves as “the only woman in the room” at board meetings, entire divisions or companies, and they sought more camaraderie and support. Less than 10 women comprised the individual meetings, but the group formalized around four pillars of focus, which remain unchanged since the group’s inception: education for its members, to establish a sense of community and support for the women in tech roles in the area, outreach to inform students at varying ages about the possibilities in tech, and scholarships to encourage more women to enter the field.
“The pillars we established 20 years ago are still very relevant today,” said Zuckowsky. “Organizations are increasingly recognizing that they will not be as successful if they don’t get in front of the diversity and inclusion effort, which dovetails into the fiber of what WiTT was founded to address.”
During Zuckowsky’s term as president during 2005-2008, STEM was becoming more popular, and she expanded WiTT’s focus to recognize more of the sciences. “We needed to extend into medical and other fields, because technical roles are found in a wide variety of industries, not unlike how Nashville is an emerging tech hub, but we have historically been more known for the entertainment and health care industries.”
The tech workforce and availability of tech jobs in Middle Tennessee is reflective of the recent and burgeoning growth of the Nashville metro area, according to Dr. Amy Harris, Associate Professor of Information Systems & Analytics at Middle Tennessee State University and WiTT board member who authored the State of Middle Tennessee Tech 2019 workforce report. The report similarly focuses on a broader definition of “tech workforce,” to encompass not only traditional tech occupations, but also analytics occupations that lie at the intersection of tech, business and mathematics. 2001 to 2018 marked an 88% growth in technical jobs in the 15-county radius, from 26,275 technical jobs to 49,465, with the last five years accounting for 34% of that growth.
According to another recent study, women only hold about 20% of tech roles in the U.S., despite making up more than half of the workforce. Girls become interested in STEM at around age 11 but lose interest by 15, with the study citing lack of female mentors and gender inequality in STEM jobs as the main contributing factors.
“Our work is more important now than ever before,” said Penny Grogan, former WiTT president (2013-2014) and a business development manager for C Spire. “Each former president focused on building out certain aspects of WiTT’s mission. During my tenure, we focused on strengthening our exposure to the business community and expanding our scholarships to encourage more young women to enter the field as well as to help women transition into technology careers for leadership advancements and financial independence. With continual technology advances reaching every part of our lives, women hold a valuable perspective for the enrichment of those advances.”
To-date, WiTT has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to 86 recipients, some of whom will be featured during the November 7 event festivities.
During the tenure of past-president Barbara Webb (2010-2012), a telecommunications veteran, she focused heavily on recruitment and decided to enlist male membership as well.
“I became aware of just how important it was to have their buy-in, because most of the leadership in the organizations we were working for were men,” Webb said. “We needed for them to know why it was important to send their female employees, and at the same time, we needed male leaders as advocates if we were going to drive institutional change in our community and throughout all of the various industries that employ tech workers.”
“There is still much work to be done to advance women in tech in the Middle Tennessee area and beyond,” said current WiTT president and Director of Talent Acquisition for the iLOB Group with HCA Healthcare, Marla Lamont. “But we want to acknowledge and honor the work of everyone who has come before us, forming and growing this special organization to the level of success it now enjoys. The anniversary event will be an evening of celebration, with each speaker sharing meaningful stories about how their lives and careers have been impacted by WiTT.”
Learn more about the 20 Years of WiTT Benefit Dinner event, or purchase tickets on their website.
Women in Technology of Tennessee (WiTT) is a volunteer organization and community which equips women to shape the future of technology. Founded in 1999 as a small group of female leaders in the Nashville area, the organization has grown to include hundreds of members who seek to promote women in technology in four key areas: through scholarships, education, community outreach and networking. Thanks to its corporate members and generous donations, WiTT has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to advance the next generation of women tech leaders.
To learn more, visit WiTT’s website, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.