Women continue to strive for equality across most sectors and information technology is no exception. Despite notable advances, women still face a wide array of challenges in a very male-dominated profession including, but not limited to:
- Less opportunity to get promoted into leadership roles
- Lower rates of pay than their male counterparts and fewer pay rises
- Discrepancies in career growth opportunities
- Lack of diversity in team structures
- Less visibility and opportunities to enhance their profiles
In response to these challenges, Amazon Web Services launched the AWS She Builds initiative in 2018, with two major goals: to raise awareness of the gender diversity gap in IT and to find ways to create a more diverse culture to bridge that gap for female career development in the technology community.
She Builds founder Kim Bonilla says the program was initially developed to address career development, disparities in pay and opportunities, and provide more women with opportunities to advance in their careers, all with the hopes of inspiring a growing community of females in all pockets of the IT sector, both technical and non-technical. “It was also designed to facilitate the structural and cultural changes necessary for women in the tech community to move into leadership positions in far greater numbers,” she says.
Rapid expansion and huge demand
The She Builds platform was expanded in 2020 to support a range of training and certification opportunities within AWS such as She Builds CloudU, a community-based learning program. Since then, the program has continued to evolve by:
- Supporting training, growth and networking for women
- Cultivating a supportive environment through dedicated mentoring programs
- Empowering women by building diverse tech communities globally
- Providing inspiration for girls to become the IT thought leaders of tomorrow
Despite the uncertainties and disruption wrought by Covid, AWS She Builds continues to thrive, achieving 167 per cent year-on-year growth in engagements, which have now surpassed 32,000 in APJ alone since the program’s inception.
The program is also supported by the full gamut of women working in tech, Kim says.
“We have everyone from engineers, developers and solution architects to CTOs and other C-suite executives and salespeople using the platform for their career development – basically all those that have aspirations and shared experiences,” Kim says.
By providing an active forum, women at all levels in disparate areas of IT can come together to gain valuable insights through shared experiences and mentorship. This facilitates authentic and transparent dialogue regarding the challenges women face that they may be reluctant to share with their male colleagues or managers.
One of the most pleasing aspects of She Builds, she adds, is that it has always been employee-led and driven. “She Builds gives women the platform they need to showcase the many diverse voices within the IT industry,” she says. “It provides a catalyst to celebrate the amplification and diversification of female and underrepresented voices.”
As a career development platform, She Builds remains dedicated to finding pathways for women to commence, pivot, or advance their tech careers. It also provides opportunities for women who may want to pursue a career in IT that have a range of transferrable skills from non-tech backgrounds.
She Builds continues to build a strong global online following by offering the types of programs, training, funded opportunities and events that meaningfully connect with women across the IT sector, Kim says. At the same time, it has also played a vital role in driving cultural change.
“She Builds has raised considerable awareness around the issues facing women, provided vast amounts of training and inspired countless women in the tech community through mentoring. She Builds is dedicated to helping women at all stages of their IT journey through enablement, nurture and mentorship,” Kim adds.
Join us for an action-packed day
Get inspired and empowered to build your career in tech at the AWS She Builds Summit, a global online event across a range of times zones on Friday, 19 November.
Join us for an action-packed day of inspiring presentations, tips, guidance and advice in the form of talks, panel discussions and interviews that showcase female thought leaders across the sector.
Hot topics will include Artificial Intelligence, security, work/life balance, imposter syndrome, software resilience, and the power of networking (building apps to support gaps).
Attendees will also learn about our funding programs, free training, and development opportunities for underrepresented communities to develop their overall IT skills.
The event is open to anyone who identifies as female in the IT industry across all disciplines and levels of management.