Kesha Williams, who received her Master of Information Systems at University of Phoenix, is changing the face of tech. But her path has not been an easy one. She’s always been drawn to understanding how machines work and to fixing problems, and that led her to an interest in computer systems. But when she first began her career in tech, she found that being one of the only Black women in the room made it hard to find recognition and build confidence.
“Being a Black woman in tech,” Williams said, “I can’t let what other people think about me change how I feel or think about myself because I’ve been put in several situations where I was just like, ‘Okay. Why am I even here? You’re not fully utilizing my skills. I’m not given the same opportunities. Did you just hire me to check a box?’”
What has kept Williams motivated, she said, is knowing that she is blazing a path forward for other young women and young women of color in tech and helping to change the face of the industry.
Overcoming Doubts to Become a Tech Leader with a University of Phoenix Degree
Williams has been a dedicated mentor since earning her master’s degree at University of Phoenix. She strives to provide the professional validation to others that she couldn’t always find herself. In the end, mentoring reminded Williams that she was a role model and had tangible skills and experiences to share. Ultimately, she was able to find the validation that she was seeking from within.
Williams is now an award-winning Amazon Web Services (AWS) training architect for A Cloud Guru. She is also an AWS Machine Learning Hero and Alexa Champion, teaching others how to transform their lives through technology.
Williams said she loves the creative side of tech. “To me, it was just so cool to be able to build something that I could use,” Williams explained. “That’s what really attracted me to computer science and technology. And really, that’s what’s kept me in it. It’s just always trying to solve a problem, and you’re able to do that through being creative.”
Gender Gap Persists in Tech, but There Is Real Opportunity for Women to Succeed
The pressures that Williams experienced may have been felt by many women entering the tech industry. While initially drawn to the work because they are passionate about machine learning, coding or creative problem solving, they can encounter a culture that, in many cases, was designed for and is still largely populated by men with little flexibility for work-life balance.
A report by Accenture found that there is a larger gender gap today in tech than there was in 1984. Just 32 percent of technology professionals today are women, compared to 35 percent in 1984. What’s more, women who enter into tech careers often leave. According to the study, half of young women who go into tech careers drop out by age 35, citing reasons such as lack of inclusivity and lack of opportunities for advancement.
But the Accenture report also noted that there is a real opportunity for growth and advancement of women in tech if a culture shift were to happen. According to their analysis, if companies scored high on inclusivity, the annual attrition rate of women in tech could drop by 70 percent. In turn, there could be up to three million women working in tech by 2030, 1.4 million more than if nothing changes.
University of Phoenix Degree Helps Women Pursue Opportunity in Tech Workforce
A career in technology can begin with a degree. And degree programs like the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from University of Phoenix can help women get education in the technology industry by providing a pipeline of qualified female graduates.
The University offers a number of degree programs that can lead graduates to careers in tech. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science can give students the skills to apply information technology theory and principles to solve business problems. A Bachelor of Science in Information Technology can be customized with elective course and certificates in Cyber Network Defense, Advanced Networking and more. And a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity can teach professionals how to stop cyber threats for any organization.
Shirleen Hill-Omega earned a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree from University of Phoenix and now works as an IT specialist for the Arizona Department of Agriculture. She believes tech jobs can be well suited to both women and men as more companies offer flexibility for family and personal obligations on top of a career.
Both Hill-Omega and Williams are drawn to the evolving nature of tech work as well, which ensures that they are always learning. “The technology is always changing,” said Williams, “so if you want to remain marketable, you have to keep your skills current. So, I’m always in this continuous learning mode, which for me is exciting.”
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix offers degree programs designed to give students the tools they need to succeed in numerous tech careers. Through the supportive learning environment and career guidance at the University, students of all backgrounds are able to advance their education and career skills.
Undergraduate and graduate degree programs from University of Phoenix in information technology, computer science and cybersecurity are designed with maximum flexibility for working adults. Through these fields of study, students are given the tools they need to pursue high-demand tech careers. The University offers online, interactive learning options and Career Services for Life® commitment, recognizing that students continue learning and growing long after they graduate. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.