WITI was founded by Carolyn Leighton in 1989 to help advance women in computing by providing support and access to professional women working in all sectors of technology. It also focuses on improving the economic status of women, in an effort to bring them on a level playing field. Today it is the leading trade organization for tech-savvy women. With a global outreach, WITI is the premiere global organization empowering women in business and technology.
WITI members can take advantage of the organization’s networks established throughout the US and other parts of the world, including Hong Kong, Great Britain, Australia and Mexico. WITI considers this as one of its main features and is aggressively expanding networks.
For professionals, WITI serves as a platform for them to showcase their skills and voice their opinions. It has helped many women to secure publicity for themselves and their businesses.
Like its counterparts, WITI also organizes regional and national conferences to educate its members about industry trends and innovations, and also publishes a wide variety of papers and articles. The organization also seeks to provide employment to women in technical jobs and has an extensive database.
"We truly consider ourselves a technology social service agency. The bottom line is we use technology for social change."
Shireen Mitchell, Founder and CEO of Digital Sisters
Digital Sisters is a non-profit organization created to promote and provide education about technology to women and children, who have been traditionally disengaged from it, with emphasis on minorities. It aims at affecting a change in society and works through partnerships with community organizations, corporations, local schools and technology centers to close the gender gap that exists in the world of technology. The members have developed programs to promote life skills training and to increase the impact of technology skills on families by using a participatory and interactive learning approach.
The group was honored in 2003 at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Awards. They now serve more than 300 girls and women through different programs like Girls Tech Club (offering classes on online safety), Netiquette (offering classes on basic HTML and building web pages), the Financial Tech Literacy program (provides basic financial and economic literacy using technology), the Working Mothers Web Team (a collaboration of mothers from diverse backgrounds learning about basic Web development) and the Digital Resource program (provides 24 hours access to resources, news, events and other related information).
Other organizations promoting women in IT
Webgrrls International is an online and offline organization for professional women to work together. It is all about networking, learning about technology, learning new skills, locating jobs and gaining access to support and information.
The group’s website contains several podcasts of interviews with successful women entrepreneurs in IT and also features a blog which is regularly updated with interesting articles related to women in technology.
Named after the famous Grace Hopper (a pioneer in computer programming and cryptography), this is a group of several thousand women that gather together in San Francisco and Los Angeles each month to ponder over common issues and network about jobs and industry events.
The highlight of this group is the Disgraceful Award in Advertising, where companies with sexist advertisements that are harmful to the image of women are targeted.
Known for its award winning one-on-one mentoring program, this association makes possible interaction between undergraduates, graduates, and postgraduates and professionals from the industry, government officials and educators. Communication takes place via emails as mentors impart advice and provide support to their protégées on a regular basis. This has proved to be successful in attracting women to careers in technical jobs as they have someone with prior experience guiding them throughout.
MentorNet has members in over 40 nations representing 71 different nationalities. With numerous partnerships with universities all over the world and collaborations with corporate clients like IBM and Texas Instruments, MentorNet has no shortage of professionals (both men and women) ready to impart their wisdom.
It is important to note that these organizations aren’t exclusive to one another. In fact, the members frequently collaborate to share their expertise at conferences, to publish papers and organize events to advance the cause of women in computing and other technical areas.
It is also vital to understand that these are not the only organizations promoting computing amongst women. There are multitudes of such organizations in, possibly, every country in the world.
Organizations in Universities
Several colleges and universities have also set up organizations to support women pursuing degrees in science, technology or computing and to stop the decline in the number of women pursuing such courses. These organizations aspire to provide these women with unique opportunities to develop their knowledge and ultimately help them secure a strong foothold in these industries.
Some of the more prominent institutions in the United States have been listed below along with their websites. They offer interesting reading and present plentiful resources for any person with an interest in the topic of promoting women in computing.