Posted on July, 28, 2017

Written by IMC , Chicago

Posted in Philanthropy

It’s no secret that there’s a significant gender imbalance in technology and trading. It’s a trend that starts long before women reach the workplace. Of the all the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees conferred in the United States, just 35% are earned by women (read weforum.org article here). The figure drops drastically for computer science and software engineering degrees.

If workplaces want to be truly progressive, they need to counter this trend. This is critical not only for women, but for companies – and the economy. Having a diverse set of talent, from gender to race to experience, has been proven to be better for the bottom line. Promoting diversity makes financial sense: more than that, it’s the right thing to do. Which is why we were delighted to host a Girls Who Code event recently.

Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization whose goal is to get girls interested in coding at a young age. By creating a collaborative environment where girls can be coached and support each other, the charity is fostering the next generation of female software development talent.

We welcomed a group of girls from Walter Payton College Prep to our office to learn more about IMC and what we do. Rakhi, one of our Business Planning Analysts, volunteered at the event and was impressed with the level of engagement: “All 26 girls were so inquisitive and energetic – and curious about my experience as a woman at IMC. It was great that they could have one-on-one time with me and my colleagues to understand our varied career paths and (most importantly) the value of a good education.”

Kevin, who leads our internal employee training and development programs, was equally inspired by the group. “One of the girls asked me a very technical question that went over my head. It’s not often that a high school student outsmarts me: I was very impressed.”

He went on, “I think it’s important that young people get to experience a real-world working environment and see that it isn’t as scary as perhaps they have seen on TV or in movies. The fact that they can come into the office is great for us too – it’s so easy to get involved and share our specialized knowledge with the community.”

Our team got a lot out of the session and we’re now looking at ways to plan more coding-related events with our developers. As Rakhi says, “There is a lack of strong women mentors in IT roles. Talking to these girls makes me want to get involved in this field – not only for the benefit of my daughter, but also for my son. I want him to see strong women working and succeeding in every area of life.”