What WIT is
WIT (Women In Technology) Wisconsin, Inc. is a still newish nonprofit with the threefold aim of: z Attracting, retaining and developing the current
generation of women in technology careers; z Encouraging college-age women to go into tech
careers (through its WIT OnCampus leg); and z Bringing tech enthusiasm to girls in K-12 grades
(via its WIT4Girls program).
At its first two meetings in April and May at Butte des Morts Country Club in Appleton, some 200 women from 65 companies attended. They came from Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, the Fox Cities, Green Bay, Beaver Dam, West Bend and Oshkosh. Membership hit the 1,600 mark earlier this summer. WIT Wisconsin held its first annual meeting this past July 13.
Female CIOs few and far between
Danica Killam is applications services manager for Jewelers Mutual Insurance in Neenah. She manages a team of developers and specialists and works on programming projects for the niche market insurance carrier. For WIT Wisconsin, Killam is brand ambassador for Jewelers Mutual, which means she spreads the word about WIT at her workplace. Like Leinbach, Killam also was in high school when computers were making their way to the average person. Her parents had a big PC at home, and just for fun, Killam would program it. She developed programs for her manufacturing/sales-VP dad and his sales staff that helped determine his return on investment.
It’s no fun being stuck in the middle.
“I thought that was so cool,” Killam said of the programs. “The logic of it and putting things together made a lot of sense to me. Working with him made it easier. My dad completely trusted me.”
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“If something’s going wrong with the computers when you come to work, it’s my fault,” Leinbach said.
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But it can be lonely at the top. Leinbach said not a single woman works in the IT department at Ariens’ corporate headquarters in Brillion, and company-wide, women in IT for Ariens numbers only five.
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Killam said women comprise about half of her tech department at Jewelers Mutual. Nationwide, the ratio is less than one in four. Of the 4.3 million people in the United States who are employed in computer or mathematical occupations, more than 3 million are not women. That means women comprise a little more than a quarter of those employed in computer and math jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These jobs include computer and information research scientists, computer systems analysts, information security analysts, web and software developers and programmers.
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Underwritten by Dean Health Plan, Inc.
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