One of the editors at a well-known Canadian technology publishing company contacted me recently looking for a woman under 35 who might qualify to be considered for their annual list of “women to watch in IT”. The sad fact is I didn’t have one name to provide them.

 
While it is true that women are gaining ground with respect to gender equality in many industries, there is still a large gap in the talent pool in information technology. This gap was evident at the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference held in Houston where a quick glance around any of the sessions or meetings supported the findings that fewer women are entering and rising to leadership positions in our industry.
 
At the annual Women in Technology lunch this year, 400 attendees were inspired by Julie Parrish, CMO of NetApp who encouraged us to adopt the attitude of Sheryl Sandberg and “lean in” to career opportunities in information technology. This sentiment was echoed by Julie Bennani, General Manager Partner Programs at Microsoft who reminded us that women who choose the tech space can flourish with the gender pay gap having narrowed in many cases to just five percent. And it’s not just us who benefit. Data confirms that technology companies with women in leadership roles have 35% higher revenues.
 
But with only one quarter of worldwide technology jobs held by women, Julie’s call to action resonated with the crowd, “We have some work to do, ladies. And this is at a time when we have a talent shortage in this industry, we need to amplify the force multiplier of WIT and IAMCP. The tech industry is a great place for women, and we are great for this industry.”
 
But making change is not always easy and often difficult when we try to tackle it on our own. That is why IAMCP (International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners) and Microsoft are putting more emphasis on the WIT (Women in Technology) program this year. The goal is to develop a broader online community and online events throughout the year that will culminate in face-to-face opportunities to meet and learn at Worldwide Partner Conference which will be held in Washington in 2014.
 
In addition to our luncheon, some of the events you can expect to see next year will include:
 
IMPACT Symposium – we held our first symposium this year with workshops designed to foster personal and professional growth. Networking with like-minded women forged new business relationships that continued throughout partner conference and will extend into the year for many participants. Expect to see this exciting new opportunity for women to come together to be expanded for Washington.
 
WIT Business Tracks – we introduced some sessions this year featuring women in leadership roles who have garnered professional success. Aimed at offering guidance and inspiration we featured a panel of women from around the world who shared tips on how to start your own business, a successful entrepreneur (and former Microsoft executive) who provided advice on how to build a global channel as well as featured professional golfer Cindy Miller who led several sessions that ranged from how to use golf as a business tool through to building strong work teams by knowing how to communicate.
 
If you would like to get on the WIT mailing list for future events, simply send a message to gail@mercermackay.com
 
Gail Mercer-MacKay. IAMCP International WIT Chairperson.