This morning on The WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin, Abby Ziolkowski and Aubrey Baker from CQL, as well as Megan Sall from The Right Place, teamed up to talk about Michigan women in technology and the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign.
Megan is a Business Development Manager at The Right Place, a local economic development organization that has been actively involved in the recruitment and retention of talent in the technology industry. Specifically, they have focused on increasing the amount of women in tech to help improve diversity.
“We have a lot of great tech companies here in town,” she explained in the interview, “and supply and talent is a big issue these days. We see that there’s a lot of untapped resources, looking at women and wanting more of them in the industry. Over the past couple years, there’ve been a lot of efforts to increase the number of women and get a bit more diversity in the work pool.”
In addition to discussing the importance of increasing diversity in the industry overall, they also covered the variety of opportunities available to women right here in West Michigan.
“I was lucky enough to go to a high school where they offered computer design classes and web development classes,” said Abby, an intern here at CQL and senior at Kendall College of Art and Design. “Every teacher I spoke to was like, ‘Oh you’re going to move to California’...Within the last five years we’ve really seen that’s not the case anymore. There are opportunities here in West Michigan; you don’t have to move.”
Now, instead of automatically heading to the West Coast, women in the tech industry are finding exciting opportunities right here at home. Whether it’s starting a new career in software after graduating college, or finding ways to encourage other young women to get involved in technology, Michigan women are finding plenty of ways to pursue their passion for tech.
“I always grew up being told you have to move somewhere else to do software development work,” explained Aubrey, one of our incredible software developers. “I moved away after college. As time passed, I started looking for opportunities back home and that’s when I realized GR had this amazing tech industry. It’s been a great surprise to find it here.”
They also discussed additional activities and programs for those looking to get involved or introduce girls to technology, including BitCamp, Girls Who Code, or the Michigan Council for Women in Technology.
“Being a software developer,” said Aubrey, “my desire is that anybody out there listening today will think of a couple of young girls you know in your life...and just encourage them to seek out an opportunity to experience working with computers. They don’t have to pursue a career in it, but I’d love everyone to have that exposure and to have that option to see if they like working with them.”This is just a snippet of what you’ll hear in the full interview. We highly recommend you take a listen for yourself. Once more, we are so proud of these women and so fortunate to know and work with them.