USAA hosted a rare individual at its headquarters in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the formation of Aspire, an internal organization that helps to grow and encourage women in technology jobs reach their full potential.
The special guest was Avis Yates-Rivers, president and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International and director of the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
She is one of the few females to head up an IT company, but also one of the only women of color to do so as well.
Yates-Rivers is promoting the importance of women in IT, especially since the industry is facing a real shortage and must grow more diverse.
"The Department of Labor predicts that we're only going to be able to fill about 30 percent of the 1.4 million new technology jobs at U.S. corporations are creating every day," she said.
According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, girls are less likely to study science and math, but when they do and pursue careers in technology, they find themselves isolated in the industry.
Yates-Rivers said they are twice as likely to quit their career in IT as men.
She says the Red Chair emblem is symbolic for the "Sit with Me" campaign as a visual way to show there's room for women to sit at the table in IT, but acknowledges that it must start early.
"Making that connection for girls and women that the work that they can get involved in in designing new technology can help solve big problems," she said.
USAA is one employer who is fighting to make its workforce more diverse -- in part because it's always looking for new personnel in technology areas.
It recognizes that as the need for more technology-based solutions for its diverse customers, it must look to employees who are equally diverse.
"What we are trying to accomplish is to ensure that we have the most diverse technical talent pool that we can attract to work here in San Antonio and our new office that is opening up in the Plano area," said USAA Vice President of Shared Services at USAA Heidi Musser.
There are 2,600 IT employees currently at USAA, but they expect to hire 200 more next year.
For more information on the shortage of women in the technology workforce, visit www.ncwit.org/ncwit-fact-sheet.
For more on the Sit With Me Campaign, visit http://sitwithme.org
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