Growing employment of women in tech fields seen as strengthening South Carolina's competitiveness

A recent report from Cyberstates found that South Carolina’s tech sector ranks sixth nationally in terms of the number of women employed.

Claire A. Gibbons, director of global marketing and communications for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA), said the figure represents good news for the area.

“Diversity of gender, ethnicity, age, and points of view are essential for companies and communities to thrive,” she said in an email interview with the Palmetto Business Daily.

According to the CRDA’s website, Charleston is home to more than 300 technology companies and boasts an immigration rate of 28 people per day. That translates into a labor pool the association says has grown more than triple the national rate over the past decade.

The Cyberstates report, published by CompTIA, gauged South Carolina’s tech-sector employment at 128,521, with a year-over-year gain of 4,028 jobs between 2017 and 2018.

The report stated the top careers technology careers include network architects, admins and support specialists; software and web developers; and computer system and cybersecurity analysts.

An article in The Post and Courier pointed out that although some other states whose job growth bests that of South Carolina, such as Utah, they fell behind in terms of the number of women holding technology jobs.

To compete in the marketplace, Gibbons said the CRDA has adopted an attitude of inclusion.

“A core value of One Region, Charleston’s global competitiveness strategy, is attainable opportunities for all residents to live, learn, and earn,” she explained. “That means ensuring all area residents have equal access and opportunity.”

Gibbons cited two programs that are making a difference in attracting more women to tech jobs. Girls Who Code, and its offshoot, Y Girls Code, are overseen by the Greater Charleston YWCA. The group proclaims it is “empowering girls by preparing them for high-paying tech careers.”

The Cyberstates report noted that the media wage for tech jobs is $69,445, “90 percent higher than median state wages.”

As the YWCA’s website explains, the program draws girls in sixth through eighth grades (especially “low-income students of color”) to attend its workshops. The activities also allow students to be mentored by women already working in tech careers.

“Girls Who Code, and broader programs like SC Codes, TEALS, CodeOn, etc., increases girls’ and women’s opportunities for computer science fluency and chances to participate in that workforce pipeline,” Gibbons said.

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