As the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing takes place in Texas, Julie Elberfeld from Capital One reflects on her career as a woman in tech and how she is now supporting others.
It’s staggering to consider the growth trajectory of the Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC). More than 15,000 participants are expected this year at the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. That’s up more than threefold from 4,500 in 2013.
Capital One is excited to be a part of it again this year. Hundreds of our developers, designers, data scientists, product managers, and technologists will be in Houston for the event, and we are sponsoring more than 50 students to attend who wouldn’t otherwise be able to. We’re committed to helping women succeed in tech roles at every stage of the pipeline and are proud to support women in technology in many ways, including at GHC.
When I first started my career, the representation of women in computing roles was far greater than it is today. By last year, the representation of women in tech in the US had declined to 25pc – with women leaving the industry at the midpoint of their career at more than double the rate of men.
We’re committed to doing our part to change that.
Two years ago, we launched a formal Women in Tech programme internally to elevate our focus on women working in technology. It started when two software engineers, Kaylyn and Katie, came into my office to talk about what they were seeing in articles and hearing from friends about the declining representation of women in the technology industry and the rise of hostile environments in some tech companies. These ladies wanted to prevent that from ever interfering with the inclusive culture at Capital One.
That meeting turned into a working group, which developed into local chapters, that then grew into a movement. The initiative is bringing Capital One women and men together to focus on developing a love of technology in girls, improving the representation of women in the technology field, and supporting the career development of women in tech roles in tangible and impactful ways.
Along the way, we’ve also found meaningful ways to engage with community partners and support their vital work, including Women Who Code, Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code and the Anita Borg Institute (ABI). While we’re proud of the work we’ve done thus far, we’re not satisfied – there’s more work to do and we’re committed to being a part of this journey for as long as it takes.
Capital One is a pioneering partner of the Anita Borg Institute and a diamond sponsor of GHC. We are committed to ongoing support of the organisation’s mission, supporting female students and professionals in tech. We have executive participation with ABI, including on their new Gender Partnership Executive Council. And, this year, we’re honoured to be recognised in ABI’s Top Companies for Women Technologists Leadership Index, a national programme that recognises companies committed to building workplaces where women in technology roles can thrive.
GHC is a celebration and an inspiration, as we continue the important work toward greater inclusion in technology.
I’m frequently asked what my advice is for women in tech or women considering a career in tech. My message is always, ‘Stay in’. And if you are not in, get in – and then stay in. The industry needs you, we need the women leaders of tomorrow, and besides, it is something that can be so fulfilling. Girls and women are natural problem-solvers, and you can solve the world’s greatest problems with technology.
Julie Elberfeld is SVP and commercial bank CIO at Capital One where she leads a team of technology professionals to transform products and services for commercial banking associates and customers.
A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse