Women in Technology started in founder Carol Lee Andersen’s lounge in 2001. Today, the organisation has its own offices in Auckland and Wellington, and over 4,000 email members, according to Cheryl Horo, general manager of WIT.
“The memberships have grown hugely in the last 18 months,” she says.
The proportion of women in the IT industry is quite low — less than 18%, says Horo. WIT is aiming to enable women working in technology to achieve their goals, both professional and personal, by meeting and learning from other professionals.
“We want to motivate people to achieve results,” she says. “If you decide to go for your goals, nobody is going to stop you.”
The organisation’s philosophy is about successful businesswomen helping other women become successful — it’s about “sending the lift back down”, says Horo.
WIT offers two mentoring programmes for members — Accelerate, which is a twelve month programme, and Fast Track, a three month programme for members that quickly want to reach a specific goal or target.
The three month mentoring requires a big commitment from both the mentor and the mentored, as they have weekly contact, she says.
Accelerate started in November last year, and so far it has been a success, says Horo.
“Some fantastic relationships have been formed through it,” she says.
WIT gives one-day training courses in negotiation skills, responsive assertiveness, change management, how to promote your self and how to manage business relationships effectively. The most popular course is a goal setting workshop, says Horo.
WIT already has relationships with all tertiary institutions in New Zealand. This year the organisation is going to work on building relationships with the secondary schools as well.
On International Women’s Day (March 8) WIT arranged a lunch and panel discussion with some of New Zealand’s leading women, including Prime Minister Helen Clark.
“The celebration of International Women’s Day is going to be an annual event, but possibly in a different format,” says Horo.