There is a gender gap in the technical workforce. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers primarily consist of men, with all other gender identities remaining severely underrepresented. In major tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, female employees only take up 20 – 23% of the total workforce.
Many large tech companies have made public commitments to improving gender diversity by advancing women in their technical and leadership ranks, but there is still a long way to go before we can achieve justifiable gender equality in technology. Despite the various initiatives aimed at eliminating the gender gap in the tech industry, there are still sex-based biases denying women a fair shot at success.
One organization has taken it upon itself to elevate and empower women in the tech field by bringing them together. Women In Technology Inc. (WIT), an all-volunteer organization, is all about fostering the advancement of women in the technology industry at all levels of their careers – from the classroom to the boardroom.
Amber Hart, President of WIT shares, “As the premier professional association for women in the technology industry, WIT meets its vision through a variety of leadership development, technology education, networking, and mentoring opportunities curated for women at all levels of their careers.”
Empowering the Women in Tech
When one woman helps another amazing thing can happen. That is what WIT is all about. No matter where a WIT member is in their professional development, or what technology-related field they are in, this female-led and technology-powered community offers a broad range of support, programs, and resources designed to elevate the position of other women in their career.
WIT works with a large variety of age groups — including young girls and women at the height of their careers, all under one organizational roof. Young members exploring STEM for the first time can find an array of helpful resources and material under the Girls in Technology (GIT) program while women business owners looking for community building and support can acquire the same through the Women Business Owners (WBO) group.
Through the WIT Annual Leadership Awards, the organization is a frontrunner in recognizing women in various technology organizations for their outstanding leadership and accomplishments in the areas of thought leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology. WIT also conducts monthly training events focused on helping women advance throughout all stages of their careers through their Accelerate(her) program.
While the Mentor/Protégé Program, a “women mentoring women” program provides for a member protégé to obtain advice from a senior member of WIT, the multiple Job Fairs held throughout the year create boundless opportunities for women to pursue and advance their technology careers. Not to mention, the WIT Career Center offers on-demand career development tools, a free resume review for members, and a member-only job bank that enables subscribers to obtain employees or find employment from across the country. Today, WIT has more than 1,000 members, serving the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia metro region.
Amber understands that WIT covers a lot of ground: “Being such an expansive organization does come with its challenges, but I believe our diverse offerings are what makes us different from a lot of other great groups in the area.”
An esteemed Professional
As President, Amber spearheads WIT’s expansion efforts, closely monitoring and investing in all stakeholders. She also ensures that the organization is up to date as per the latest happenings in the industry to continue to create value for the next generation of technology women leaders.
Amber received her Bachelor’s in Conflict Analysis and Resolution & Global Affairs from George Mason University (GMU), where she is an active alumna. She is also the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of The Pulse of GovCon, an advisory firm that specializes in Federal Government Contracting. Founded in 2017, The Pulse is a small, self-funded, women-owned, for-profit business located in the DMV region that focuses on providing actionable competitive intelligence tools, and services to empower Federal Government Contractors.
Founded to break down barriers across the Government Contacting ecosystem and bridge the fundamental gaps surrounding federal procurement through writing, training, consulting, and a unique membership platform, The Pulse of GovCon exists to put the human element back into Federal procurement data.
A skilled Federal Business Developer, Amber has 12+ years of experience in all aspects of selling to the Federal Government. She is an active member of the Professional Services Council (PSC), serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Government Contracting at GMU, and of course the President of Women in Technology (WIT). “I hope to continue supporting and volunteering my time with organizations like WIT to ensure that [my daughter] has the resources, community, and opportunity to pursue whatever she wants to do in life,” she states.
Hart’s insights into the convoluted and cumbersome federal procurement process and industry have made her stand out in her field. Just recently, Amber testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee and participated in the Biden Administration’s 2022 Supply Chain Ministerial Forum where she spoke on a panel addressing structural barriers that inhibit women’s participation in the workforce.
As a small business owner and an active contributor to the community, Amber is of the opinion that in today’s fast-paced society, there is no such thing as a work-life balance. Instead, she believes that the new generations of leaders should have “work-life integration” to make the most of both. “But the way I keep them both from clashing is by having a supportive and equal partnership,” she mentions.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
The mother of a smart little girl, Amber has always believed in creating objectives and doing everything possible to achieve them, a quality she often notices in her little one as well. Amber prefers to stay updated with the latest industry trends, often attending trade shows, and job fairs and tapping into her network of other women leaders.
The owner of a small business herself, Amber’s goal is to contribute to society by uplifting the stature of women and creating as many opportunities for them as possible. To her, the exercise of constant growth and personal development is paramount. As a revered woman leader and an idol to many young professionals around the country, she shares, “My two biggest lessons thus far in my career have been this. First, learn and get comfortable with saying “no”; and second, never be the smartest person in the room – if you are, find a new room. Keeping both lessons at the top of my mind helps me learn and improve as a leader, a professional, and a person daily.”
In more recent times, when the pandemic shook the world, Amber realized that the organization needed to act fast as the world was going into lockdown. As the events of March 2020 began to unfold, WIT quickly pivoted to a virtual format for all members and sponsors to continue to provide value for their investment.
The association management company worked closely with the WIT committee of volunteers to research and demo platforms to find the one that would provide the best virtual user experience. “We selected Brazen and it’s been a partnership we value and have just started our third year with them as our platform of choice,” shares Amber.
WIT’s virtual job fairs evolved into a platform attracting thousands of young women either already in the technology field or at the cusp of it. At these virtual fairs, participants and job seekers get the opportunity to interact with live representatives and industry figureheads, demonstrate their abilities, and apply for open positions, all out of the comfort of their own homes or surroundings. “We have had such success with these virtual fairs, we have continued to offer both those and in-person fairs for our members,” shares Amber.
Into the future, Amber will continue to stay deeply invested in WIT, empowering, and connecting women from various technological backgrounds. In the pipeline, the organization is undergoing a period of “reinvestment.” “That means that we are taking a minute to slow down, evaluate our offerings, and inspect how we are doing things internally,” explains Amber.
“The pandemic really shook up our organization and what our members now prioritize. Like a lot of other organizations, it could have taken us down with it, but WIT survived through the support of our volunteers, members, and sponsors. I think it’s important that we now take the time to show gratitude and ensure that we are delivering back value to every stakeholder we have.”
Exciting new initiatives include new programs such as the Accelerate(her) program, Sponsorship “Thank You” Dinners, and creating fun WIT “Swag” to gift to new and recurring members. As for the organization, WIT has just submitted our 501(c)(3) application and has officially brought Girls in Technology (GIT) under the WIT umbrella, to reach out and connect with a younger audience.
With their various initiatives and efforts, WIT continues to advance women in technology, from the classroom to the boardroom by providing advocacy, leadership, professional development, networking, mentoring, and technology education. Looking ahead, WIT remains steadily poised to grow its educational and philanthropic endeavors for years to come.