Along with the excitement and momentum of new technologies sweeping across all aspects of life in the 21st Century come rapid changes that make keeping pace with it all a daunting task – and especially so, for women in the work force.
That fact was the impetus behind the founding of Tech Up for Women, a collaborative hub for education and resources that will hold its annual one-day event and engagement platform Nov. 19 at New York City’s Javits Center. Structured for advancing women in technology, Tech Up for Women was born as a corollary of Global Training & Events Group (GTEG), a company that customizes corporate training, at the suggestion of NASDAQ, which recognized the need for an organized effort that would result in empowerment of women. “NASDAQ became our first sponsor, and we’re now on our third year,” says Dawn Pratt, CEO of GTEG and founder of Tech Up for Women.
Tech Up for Women is able to leverage its relationships with some 250 faculty members and 124 sponsoring companies to help women to “tech up” – by which they mean access the resources to get them up to speed with the trends and opportunities available in the consumer technology realm.
This year, Tech Up for Women is collaborating in partnership with CE Week, the annual technology show occupying the Javits June 12-13 as a global event powered by IFA, which runs the IFA Berlin tech trade show. The partnership’s aim: to foster networking and engagement among Tech Up for Women’s members with technology innovators in the tech categories addressed at CE Week’s diverse exhibits and conferences.
“Our goal has always been to have a platform where every woman or man would feel they could find the resources to continue to ‘tech up.’ We made our website platform as a way for people to come on, find a resource, and go to that resource,” Pratt explains.
She says the Tech Up for Women’s agenda is wide-reaching. “We cover everything from digital analytics, to big data, to cyber security, to 5G, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality – and how to leverage career opportunities in these areas. It’s all meant to be broad in scope. Our breakout sessions are designed for people to learn a little bit about a lot of different ways to ‘tech up’ in technology. We want to take the fear factor away.”
While men are not excluded from the platform’s offerings and benefits, Pratt says the greatest need has been among women, given their particular challenges in the work force. “We have so many men who call us and tell us our event is great and that we should call it just ‘Tech Up,’ and we do address ‘teching up’ for men. But women fall short in so many areas of tech, and will, until the playing field is leveled.”
She noted that at the 2018 conference, Anne Mulcahy, former Xerox CEO, called attention to the issue of the number of women who fall out of contention for senior management roles in technology companies. This type of high-caliber topic is typical of the overall Conference agenda – and the subjects addressed are always changing and evolving year to year, “because the obstacles are always changing and evolving,” Pratt said.
For example, on the subject of startup businesses, “the number of entrepreneurial women who are successful in receiving financing has dropped recently,” notes Pratt. “It’s gone down to less than two percent. So we ask questions such as, what do women do wrong when they’re pitching their products?
“In between discussion about technologies, we offer startups ideas such as how to package a portfolio to get financing,” Pratt says. “Then there are discussions on leadership training, confidence-building and mentoring – we cover all of that. And we have so many faculty members who we highlight as sources of training.”
One way the Tech Up for Women exhibition is drawing attention to its support of entrepreneurship this year is by inviting 20 individuals up to the conference stage to each give a seven-minute pitch about their entrepreneurial ideas – and then encouraging interested parties to speak with the presenters.
“Certainly, from a lifestyle standpoint, and also a business standpoint, technology is making everyone’s lives easier, and the only thing holding people back from advancing is the fear factor and worry about whether it will be hard to learn. Events such as ours and CE Week help with that.”
Tech Up for Women offers a host of online networking opportunities. But for those who register to attend the November Conference in person, an exhibit space devoted to job recruitment will be set aside from 4 to 7 pm – a strategy supported by 44 associations including groups such as the American Society of Civil Engineers and the NY Tech Alliance.
“I’m so excited about the partnership with CE Week,” Pratt says, “because it’s an area our lives revolve around, and I think it will help our initiatives and efforts in teching people up and helping them to move forward… It’s about staying current – and ahead.”
Information about CE Week and a registration link can be accessed at www.ceweekny.com. A registration link for the 2019 Tech Up for Women Conference is available at techupforwomen.com.