New Orleans among top 10 cities for Women in Tech

Our founder, Wendy Dolan, was invited by WWNO, New Orleans’ National Public Radio station, to speak with tech and innovations reporter, Janaya Williams, about the recent Smart Asset survey that listed New Orleans as the 7th best city in the US for women working in the technology field.

Listen to the interview here, and read the transcript below:

Wendy Dolan: New Orleans Women in Technology was founded last year in 2014, and our main goals are pretty ambitious. We want to try to increase the number of women in technology by 75% by the year 2020, and we also want to even out the wage gap for women and men in New Orleans in the Technology field.

Janaya Williams: And the survey from Smart Asset used a few of those numbers to determine how well cities were doing. They looked at the wage gap, they looked at the number of women working in each city. New orleans did quite well in that measure and came in in number 7. Only washington D.C. has more women working in the tech field as a percentage. They looked at a woman’s income after housing, and they looked at the growth of women in the industry over 3 years. Now taking all of those things into account, were you surprised to see New Orleans come in so high on the list?

Wendy Dolan: I was really excited to see New Orleans on the list, I can’t necessarily say that I was surprised because I’ve seen the growth of women in technology in this city, but I was really happy to see that we are getting some national attention for that.

Janaya Williams: What do you think still remains to be done? what can New Orleans do better to get even higher than number 7 on the lists of cities that are really welcoming to women in the technology field?

Wendy Dolan: Well I think the wage gap is always going to be something that women look at, especially with it being so bad in Louisiana in general. Women in louisiana earn 67% of what men earn. But then when you look at the technology wage gap it’s so different. 94.5% I believe it is, cents on the dollar, for women to men. So that’s one of the reasons why we are trying to encourage women to understand that there is a lot of potential for them within the technology field, and we hope that when women see these numbers from this Smart Asset survey that they say – ok, maybe I don’t need to be so scared to enter into this field. You know, it’s not necessarily a nerdy thing, or a geeky thing. It’s great, because I can make a real living wage.

Janaya Williams: So, the jobs are there, and they are good high paying jobs, and for what we are hearing, a big number of women at least in New Orleans are pursuing them. So where does the disconnect happen for women? At what point is the process kind of breaking down?

Wendy Dolan: There are huge barriers to access for women in technology, and I think that the place that happens the most is for girls. We see that all the time, you know? Girls in stem fields the fall off around age 9, kind of hitting into the puberty years. And I think they are afraid of being perceived in a way, you know, like they are not cool or whatever else. That is one of the reasons why Women in Technology gears a lot of our programs to young girls. Last year we did a “Bring your Daughter to Hack Day”, and we are going to be doing that again this year. There is a really great event coming up at Delgado, it’s called: “Teen Tech Day”, and was actually founded by an amazing woman named Shercole King who works in data analysis for the homeless population in New Orleans. She didn’t come from a tech background, very much like myself, but she saw the need to really start involving teenagers from a young age in the technology sector, so her and Chris Boudy came up with this Teen Tech Day. This year we are super excited because of the four instructors who are teaching the teens, three of them are women.

Janaya Williams: And you mentioned Shercole King, who are some other women in tech to watch in New Orleans?

Wendy Dolan: Well, Torrie Adams, the president of New Orleans Women in Technology is just amazing! Another person that I’ve been in contact with recently is Allyson Hoss over at Delgado. I’m super impressed with what she is doing, because what she’s done is reached out to the entire New Orleans tech scene to try to understand what kind of software and programs they are using, and build her new program to make her graduates work for the New Orleans technology community, which is fantastic! I love seeing that higher education and some of the bigger technology firms – GE Capital and people like that – they are all coming in and saying: Let’s work together to build the tech community that we need to bring more big companies in, to keep numbers building and get above number 7 on the list.