CaseStack Encourages Women in Technology
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women hold 26% of professional computing occupations in the 2016 U.S. workforce. The Women in Information Technology Conference focuses on honoring women in technology-related business professions and offers students the opportunity to learn from one another while forming connections that will grow this percentage.
This two-day event was hosted by the University of Arkansas – Information Technology Research Institute and happened April 11 & 12th, 2017. On April 11th, awards were given to high school students at the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award Dinner; CaseStack was honored to be a Gift Sponsor for the awardees. CaseStack’s own Allison Inman, James Sampson, Nicole Hutchison, and Paul Martin were in attendance to show their support and appreciation of these high school women, who are actively pursuing their computing and technology passions.
On April 12th, women filled the auditorium, eager to hear the conference speaking sessions, including the Governor’s Address from Governor Asa Hutchinson. Paul Martin, Strategic Initiatives Engineer at CaseStack, was part of a panel discussion on business analytics and big data. Also on the panel were Lisa Morstad, Senior Analytics Advisor for Forecast5 Analytics, and Mihir Kittur, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer for UGAM. This panel discussion allowed women in attendance a great opportunity to ask industry leaders first-hand any questions they have about the technology workforce.
Business analytics and virtual reality were the topics of discussion for Paul as he took the stage with Warner Skoch, also a Strategic Initiatives Engineer at CaseStack. Paul noted the challenges business analytics faces and how virtual reality can provide an extremely immersive environment to combat them. He explained how CaseStack utilizes virtual reality through a virtual warehouse tour, which Warner would lead the attendees through later on. After Paul’s presentation, women flooded the hall to view the virtual reality demonstration inside one of CaseStack’s many warehouses. Some were familiar with the world of virtual reality, some were new to it, but all were excited to give this demonstration a try.
It is clear, the shift in gender inclusion needs to happen to the face of technology. Governor Hutchinson told the conference that numbers are increasing for female students in Arkansas taking computer science programs and he will visit schools in an effort to keep that number rising. Arkansas Future Grants will provide students with up to two years of tuition and fees at a state community or technical college if they’re enrolled in science and technology fields. Paul Martin states, “I’ve witnessed first-hand the value of having diverse perspectives in an organization, and so I was happy to participate in an event geared towards doing just that. The most rewarding moment was seeing young women interacting with the virtual reality equipment and exclaiming things like, “Oh how cool! I want to do this”. It is my hope that as we proliferate the wonder that is computing to underrepresented segments of our society, we as an industry will start to see more and more diversity in the computing profession.”
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