Video urges women to consider information technology field

By University Communications
November 18, 2016
UW-Stout student Andrea Ollig, who is majoring in computer networking and information technology, takes a stand in the Sit With Me campus video.

Photo: UW-Stout student Andrea Ollig, who is majoring in computer networking
and information technology, takes a stand in the Sit With Me campus video.

Students, faculty and others at University of Wisconsin-Stout have taken a seat to take a stand.

They appear on a “Sit With Me” campus video as they encourage more women to consider careers in information technology.

“We hope we can raise awareness of the issue and let young women understand they could do well in technology,” said Holly Yuan, director of the computer networking and information technology undergraduate program at UW-Stout.

Just six women at UW-Stout are majoring in CNIT out of approximately 140 students in the program. The number of women, however, is a marked improvement over the lone female in the program just a few years ago, Yuan said.

UW-Stout isn’t alone in trying to encourage more women to enter the field. Sit With Me is a campaign by the National Center for Women in Technology. Nationally, women make up about 18 percent of the IT workforce. In the 1980s women made up 37 percent of the IT workforce, a more than 50 percent drop in the past three decades.

From left, Jacob Lube, William Steahr and Jordan Sussman appear on the video.An additional sign of lack of women in the field is the 11 percent who hold top executive positions in technology-based corporations in the Fortune 500.

The job market for IT graduates is expected to remain strong for years to come. In an employment report of the most recent UW-Stout graduates, 96 percent of CNIT alumni had full-time jobs within six months with an average starting salary of $52,000.

The UW-Stout video, similar to “Sit with Me” videos produced by institutions and corporations from around the country, features men and women from campus pledging their support and offering words of encouragement with whiteboard messages as they sit in a red chair, the campaign’s symbol.

A female student, Andrea Ollig, of Amery, said she was the only woman in her first information technology class on campus. “I looked around and I had no confidence in my abilities. Over the years … I found confidence,” she said.

A male student said, “(Information technology) is the future. Women should be part of it.”

Another male student said, “I feel women shouldn’t feel intimidated to be in STEM.”

The video includes members of the CNIT advisory board.

The approximately two-minute video, filmed on campus this fall, can be seen here.

“The video is a sincere attempt to address the challenge we are facing nowadays — increase women and diversity in the field,” Yuan said.

The national Sit With Me campaign includes appearances on the red chair by celebrities Shaquille O’Neal and Meryl Streep.

UW-Stout’s CNIT program previously was named information technology management.



Bottom Photo: From left, recent UW-Stout computer networking graduates Jacob Lube, William Steahr and Jordan Sussman share their thoughts on the Sit With Me video.