France Cyrenne landed her dream job right out of university. Nineteen years later, France is a senior executive with the same company. As a senior consultant with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, she is a good role model for aspiring young women. Following the advice of a career counselor at a young age and developing her project management skills and techniques under a nurturing female manager provided France with the knowledge and encouragement to succeed.
With the rapid decline of enrolment in the science and technology programs and the daily struggle for women to balance careers and families, France believes senior level role models - and an innovative, hip marketing campaign - are exactly what the IT industry needs to attract more young women. She is a strong advocate for the important role women play in the industry and took time with CATA WIT to explain their essential role.
Mentors Early in Your Career
"I worked under a female manager for my first project with Accenture. I remember feeling really safe working for her; she took me under her wing and encouraged me to grow as an IT worker. She was so helpful," says France. "I think every young woman, or any person for that matter, needs that sort of influence when they're first starting out. You should never feel so insecure in a new job that you think you know nothing, but rather feel comfortable in a new setting that you want to learn everything."
Helping Women Stay in their Jobs and Start a Family
While there are many companies like Accenture providing support to young women by recruiting in universities and reaching out to female professors, many women leave what could be very successful careers in IT to have children without a sense of security or encouragement. "Women leave not asking for help, because they don't think it's feasible to have both a job and a family," says France. "Women that can see their positions as long-term and see a place for them in the company are more likely to stay. It's important for women in senior roles to share their stories, to share their strengths, and prove that a balance between work and family is possible."
Reaching Young Women Early
France's aptitude for IT related business was first uncovered in high school. Unsure of what she wanted to do as a career, France sought the advice of her high school's career counselor. After administering a test and combining her strengths in accounting and computers, France's career counselor suggested the Management Information Systems program at the University of Ottawa. However, changes in high school curriculums make it difficult to recruit at the grade 12 level; marketers need to target girls at an even younger age.
"We have to advertise to students not only at the college and university level, but also at the high school level. By grade 9 students are expected to choose their career path and made to take the right courses to get them into specific programs in university and college," says France. "I think a lot of young people were turned off of IT when the industry went through a rough spell in 2000. It's time to promote IT as a rewarding career that has a high self-satisfaction element. Marketing campaigns need to show IT's fun side by promoting the video games, the self-service websites or tools of everyday life, or even the fashion that is designed with the software that IT professionals develop. We need to show the exciting outcomes of our industry, not just someone in a suit staring at a computer."
- Women are an important solution to filling the IT talent gap
- Profiling successful women and women doing interesting jobs will help attract girls to consider IT as a career path
- Programs are required to accommodate women in balancing a career and starting a family
CATA WIT News
April 16 - Toronto - Networking is Telling, Not Selling
Join our Toronto Chapter for an informative cocktail event that will entail an interactive discussion with Colleen Clarke, career specialist and corporate trainer. This is the perfect opportunities for those networking for the first time and for those who simply want to improve their skills!
Please click HERE to see details.
April 23 - Montreal - Symposium sur l'Entrepreneuriat en Technologie
Les clés du succès pour démarrer une entreprise en technologie - découvrir comment réussir. Rencontrer d'autres passionné(e)s et apprendre de leurs expériences, connaissances et passion. Se joindre aux entrepreneur(e)s des nouvelles technologies. Découvrir et développer ses propres forces d'entrepreneur(e)!
May 15 - Calgary Chapter's Inaugural Meeting
CATA WIT Forum is pleased to announce that Elan Harper, Manager, Tax, Deloitte and Kelly Morrison, Telus are the co-chairs of the new CATA WIT Calgary Chapter. They will chair their first executive meeting on May 15, 2008.
Welcome CATA WIT Chapter Chairs!
CATA WIT would like to introduce our other chairs around the country as well: Estelle Duez and Ella Mar, Ottawa Chapter Co-chairs, Joanne Hausch and Dr. Catherine Boivie, Vancouver Chapter Co-chairs, Suzie Labonne, Toronto Chapter Chair, and Vivian Hudson, Montreal Chapter Chair. We look forward to the successful Chapter events this coming spring!
Please join existing CATA WIT members on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5588357735. You can add your comments and thoughts to topics such as: Are Women Under-represented in the High Tech Sector? Current Facebook members can subscribe directly to the CATA WIT Facebook group.