When you think about experts in technology, it’s easy to assume that men are the ones who lead the way. At Hodges University, Tracey Lanham, Associate Dean of the Fisher School of Technology, actively encourages more women to enter a growing field that will continue to expand exponentially.
That encouragement has to start before college. “It’s important to continue encouraging young ladies, particularly in middle school and high school, to pursue computer technology career paths,” Lanham said. “We need a diverse group of experts to engage in the development and advancement of technology because they better represent the growing diversity of users. For new, cutting edge solutions, you need experts with different backgrounds and thinking.”
According to NCWIT, women hold 57 percent of professional occupations overall, but only 26 percent of women are in professional computing occupations. Professor Lanham volunteers her time as a regional director for the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and organizes the annual Aspirations in Computing
(AiC) Awards in Southwest Florida.
This year the awards ceremony is May 23, 2020. “We work with our regional high schools to actively encourage girls to pursue computing careers,” she said. “Each year we host the
AiC awards to recognize girls for their continuing contributions to the field. This year we have a record 64 girls who have earned this recognition. They are then qualified to advance to the national level and can earn scholarships, and this year, we have one who is
an honorable mention winner. Just as important, they have access to resources and mentoring opportunities.”
According to NCWIT, 82 percent of the annual award winners continue their pursuit of computing careers. Demand for computing experts is growing, as the US Department of Labor said that by the year 2026, there would be over 3.5 million computing related Hodges University job openings. Of those new job openings, only 17 percent of them could be filled if the pool of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computing doesn’t increase.
“What many people don’t understand is that computing is the foundation of just about every other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) discipline,” said Lanham. At Hodges University, the Fisher School of Technology offers degrees that help students develop the skills needed to make a positive impact in the technology sectors of our business community.
Students can pursue Bachelor degrees for computer information technology, cybersecurity and networking, and software development. Students can pursue associate degrees in computer information technology. “What distinguishes our degrees is the fact that our students can also earn industry certifications while pursuing their degree,” said
Lanham. “Those added credentials are appealing to employers.
We also offer specialty certificates that are designed to enhance the skill sets our students gain in specific areas of focus.” Professional certificates include animation design, AutoCAD drafting, cybersecurity, e-business software, e-business ventures, database management, graphic design production, help desk support, information technology support, networking specialist, and user experience and web design.
“These certificates are the result of conversations with area businesses to find out what skills their current employees need, and what skills they look for when hiring new employees. It is our priority to fill the gaps that currently exist in the industry,” added
Lanham. “All of our programs are designed to lead directly to careers. Many of our programs have earned national recognition for excellence.”
The versatility of a computing degree extends far beyond technology. “Computing degrees are highly adaptable, and offer graduates the opportunity to play an important role in nearly every industry,” said Lanham. “In addition to the obvious careers at technology
companies, there are plenty of opportunities in healthcare, education, marketing, business and finance. The opportunities in this field are nearly endless, and that’s exciting for me and our students.”
For more information about computing degrees at Hodges University, visit Pathways.Hodges.edu.