Mark this item overdue: Women in technology.

June 24, 2015

In less than 10 years, we’ll need 1.7 million more engineers and computing professionals in the U.S. Many will write code. Some will be mobile developers. Others will collect and analyze data. And the majority of them will be men.

The number of women in computing in the U.S. has fallen from 35 percent in 1990 to just 26 percent today, and women earn 73 cents to every dollar men earn. Saying the field is dominated by men is an understatement. It’s also overdue for change. Why can’t more of those 1.7 million people be women?

This is a topic best addressed by someone without a beard.

“We don’t really know what is keeping women away from technology, but we do know that women earn 57 percent of all bachelor degrees awarded, but in Computer Science we only earn 12 percent of degrees,” says Shari Plantz-Masters, founding academic dean of Regis University’s College of Computer & Information Sciences (CC&IS). “The problem is widely recognized and there are many exciting new programs designed to motivate young women to the join tech industry, yet we are not making much progress. What is promising is the conversation. Big tech companies like Apple, Google and Yahoo who report only 25 percent of their workforce are women are actively addressing this problem.”

Plantz-Masters is a 30-year veteran in the computer and information sciences fields. She oversaw a $2 billion capital budget and 400 employees at US West. She’s been with Regis for nearly two decades and is committed to the College of Computer & Information Sciences and the Jesuit values the University advocates.

“The message about technology needs to change. Technology and programming is not about sitting in a dark cubicle until the wee hours of the morning writing lines of code. It is about solving important world problems,” said Plantz-Masters. “We can make an impact on just about any problem the world faces, from helping the disabled interact better with the physical world, to bringing clean water to underdeveloped areas. We need to highlight these messages. By doing this, we not only motivate more young women to join the field, we motivate people who want to solve problems no matter their gender, ethnicity or race.”

Learn more about Plantz-Masters’ vision for CC&IS and see how you can become a leader in technology and inspire others to follow in your footsteps.