One thing I consistently hear about the Indianapolis tech community… where are all the people? Clearly, we have a supply problem that is disproportionate to the demand. I often joke that the Indianapolis tech community doesn’t match the state unemployment rate of 3.3%, the Indianapolis tech community’s unemployment rate is 3.3 – people, 3.3 people.
When reading a recent article on why Amazon didn’t pick Indianapolis for its HQ2, where it highlighted our lack of a tech talent pool, I couldn’t help but cringe as I read it. That cringe led me to the proverbial Googling of two things: one, our latest venture capital (VC) backed tech companies and two, our city’s biggest, best, largest, insert adjective – tech companies. While my conclusions are backed by my internet research, I’ll freely admit them to be more anecdotal than anything. I think the Indianapolis tech community problem isn’t just a “people” problem, more specifically it’s a “woman” problem. And the problem is, we do not have nearly enough women in technology.
Reams of information and statistics exist on technology and degrees and education, and the difference between the number of men and women in each, and I’m sure all of it is true. A 2017 article states “Microsoft claims only 6.7% of women graduate college with a STEM degree”. The problem is – you don’t have to graduate with a degree in STEM to work in technology. Spend five minutes on LinkedIn looking at profiles of some of the tech giants of Indianapolis, individuals who truly made our city great, and you’ll find degrees in marketing, economics, accounting and political science. Of the five giants I searched, only one, Don Brown, has a STEM degree or degrees in his case.
To expand our tech community, we don’t just need technicians, we need business people and I’d suggest, we need more business women. We need people who can take risks, who will take an idea or passion and turn it into a business that has employees and profits and gives back to our community.
When I think back to my roots of growing up outside of Detroit, the idea of women owning or running businesses is just what I expected. Both of my parents were college professors and the imprint left on me, one I hope to pass on to my daughter, is that women can do anything in life – personally and professionally. How can we as members of the Indianapolis tech community help foster the advancement and increase the number of women in technology?