Does WIT have Something for Me?

Since the Women in Technology (WIT) calendar runs from July 1 – June 30, our program year is winding down and planning has already started for next year, including the recruitment of next year’s leadership team. WIT is always looking for new volunteers year round and we love that WIT has become a great place for women to flex muscles that they may not get to use in their day jobs by getting involved and even taking on a leadership position. WIT’s work is focused around core programs, events and initiatives that are governed by a set of bylaws and led by a board of directors, who support the leaders of our committees and special interest groups (SIGs). Our overall mission is to help develop women leaders at every stage of their career and below is an overview of the ways in which we do that.

Core Programs

The Leadership Foundry (TLF) - TLF prepares women to serve on corporate boards through a structured nine-month program that includes an intensive board training session in cooperation with the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). The program typically meets for evening, monthly training and networking events and provides ample opportunities to network with women currently serving on corporate boards and companies looking for women to join their leadership team. TLF also conducts an annual study in partnership with American University’s Kogod School of Business to study gender diversity and its effect within the boardroom. The resulting annual report, which WIT has been conducting for since 2010, includes publicly traded companies within Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC.

Girls in Technology (GIT) – GIT offers educational and hands-on STEM programs that promote creativity and innovation, inspiring  girls to pursue STEM-related careers. Their educational programs target girls in middle and high school, and they range from mentoring programs to support for girls’ participation in the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program, to one-day hands-on events with demonstrations, prizes and panel discussions. GIT also administers an annual scholarship program that helps to enrich girls’ lives and reduce the financial barriers for those that desire to pursue higher education for careers in STEM fields.

Mentor Protégé Program (M/P) – The M/P Program offers a 21st Century’s place for women who are five years into their career, in transition, or re-entering the workforce to be mentored in a structured environment where they can make lasting connections with local women leaders. Women participate in a five-part series devoted to their professional growth with the goal that mentoring will last beyond the structured series. Proteges attend monthly sessions that are led by a professional facilitator. Sessions explore issues and opportunities facing women professionals today, such as work/life integration, strategic networking, political savvy and executive presence, and communication. The program is limited to 25 women and qualified candidates are accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Leadership Awards – Annually, the Leadership Awards recognize and honor women professionals who have exemplified leadership, while promoting the WIT mission of advancing women in technology from the classroom to the boardroom. Typically, nominees work in a technology role or for a technology company where they accelerate leadership and innovation. They also are often stimulators of professional growth for those they manage or mentor through their actions and encouragement. In the spring, WIT hosts a Leadership Awards Gala where we reveal this year’s winners from this list of finalists. Identifying these women is a months-long process that starts in October with the opening of nominations. The stories of these women are quite remarkable and the best place to hear them all is at the Gala. This is an inspiring evening that should not be missed by companies supporting women leaders in the greater DC community.

Core Events

WITConnect – WIT puts on between four and six large networking events each year that consist of strategic technology topics that help women learn while making new connections. This year’s topics included an understanding of the digital automation revolution, how to be ready for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), how machine learning will impact the job market, and humanizing big data.

Job Fair – This event occurs in both the spring and fall, bringing together over sixty companies and more than 300 attendees. Major attractions are a photographer taking professional head shots for attendees, workshops on getting noticed, and plenty of opportunities to meet companies looking to hire qualified women. Attendees will learn more about local companies that may lead to an opportunity they hadn’t considered before. These job fairs are the best organized events of their kind in town!

Holiday Giving Gala – Our holiday gala is done in partnership with WIT’s foundation, STEM for Her, and is both a chance to mingle with WIT Sponsors and support STEM education programs. A percentage of all tickets sold for this event goes to support STEM education programs funded by STEM for Her. The event is great fun and includes a silent auction, as well as a chance to meet girls who have benefited from WIT’s Girls in Technology programs.

Leadership Awards Gala – This is the culmination of the Leadership Awards Program and is held annually in the spring (see above description).

Initiatives and Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Membership Development - WIT serves more than 1,000 members, representing companies from every segment of the technology industry, providing access to a network of professionals that is otherwise difficult to obtain. Our annual membership fee is only $115, and our membership development team is always looking for new ways to provide value to our members. The team is eager for new ideas and opportunities such as this event we co-sponsored featuring Clair Shipman discussing her book The Confidence Code.

Nominating - Women in Technology operates on a fiscal year from July 1 - June 30 and leadership terms range between one and two years in length (depending on the position). The nominating committee is the group who supports the matching of WIT opportunities with the talent and interests of women who are interested in flexing some new muscles. The committee puts forth the recommended slate and the WIT Board of Directors approves the slate before presenting it to the membership for a vote.

Communications - The Communications Committee manages all the marketing, publishing, public and media relationships for WIT. They are responsible for developing the WIT messaging (internal and external), managing and coordinating press/media at events, and promoting the WIT brand and image to the public. We have a strategic relationship with The Merritt Group, but many committee volunteers are needed to properly leverage all the programs and opportunities you see outlined in this article. Engaging with this group exposes WIT members to media and agency outlets and helps you hone messaging and branding skills.

Speakers Bureau – WIT is devoted to promoting opportunities for its members to share their experience and hone presentation skills. This group is working to operationalize a database of WIT members who have something unique to say and provide training and support to those working to get there. Engaging with this group requires some entrepreneurial spirit to further develop this program.

Women Business Owners – The Women Business Owners Special Interest Group (WBO SIG) offers owners of technology-related companies a confidential environment for networking, learning, and discussing business trends, ideas and solutions, specifically related to growing their businesses. Often this is done by diving into a book that is of interest to group members or taking ‘field trips’ to observe small businesses in action.  Engaging here provides women with a new support network and an opportunity to influence the topics being discussed.

Young Professionals - WIT YP welcomes women of all ages, but focuses on the needs of women in the first 10 - 15 years of their career as they ascend the professional ladder into leadership positions. Women early in their careers or in transition have unique professional needs. Engaging with this group provides a unique opportunity to share your professional experiences and influence programs targeted to a young, professional, female audience.

All of these core events, programs, initiatives and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are all put on by WIT volunteers. See something that interests you? Want to get involved? Check out one of our upcoming new member orientation events to learn more and meet other members or contact us at [email protected].

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