Modernizing the Future
WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY
BY KAREN O’BYRNE, CHIEF FINANCIAL & OPERATING OFFICER AT MODERNIZING MEDICINE ®
According to the US Census Bureau, women make up 59 percent of the US labor force and almost 51 percent of the US population. And in most industries, women make up roughly half of all entry-level jobs. Yet only 37 percent of entry-level workers in technology companies are women, and the percentage of women who work for leading US technology companies like Twitter and Facebook is only 30 percent. If you continue to break down the numbers, women in technical positions and leadership roles represent only 16 and 23 percent of the workforce, respectively. While these statistics may seem grim, they also expose tremendous untapped opportunities and room for growth.
The underrepresentation of females and female leaders in the workplace, specifically in the technology sector, is certainly not because women are incapable. There are a number of well researched reasons for the gender disparity in the tech industry which include pipeline, unconscious bias, balance of work and family and many others. Many leading tech companies are tackling these challenges with programs specifically designed to achieve more diversity in their workforce. Modernizing Medicine is among those companies making a clear and deliberate commitment to gender diversity in our workforce and in our community. We believe that through investment in education, community and in our own corporate programs, we can not only maintain that critical balance in our own organization, but also empower women in general with the confidence and skills needed to thrive and grow as contributors in the tech community.
INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION AND AWARENESS
There is such an incredible pool of talent here in the South Florida community, sometimes referred to as ‘Silicon Beach’ for the tech talent and opportunities it holds. There’s always more that can be done to tap into that talent, foster it and keep it here in our community.
After decades of commitment to investing in curriculum reform and efforts to promote girls’ interest in STEM studies, we’ve seen some improvement. According to a report from the organization Girls Who Code, 74 percent of young girls express an interest in STEM education. However, there’s a disconnect that happens when they pursue their degrees and careers. They found that only 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26 percent of computing jobs are held by women (TechCrunch.com). Additionally, when women come into the technology workforce, they tend to leave these positions earlier and in more numbers than their male counterparts. Why is there this disconnect and how can we close this gap?
Research points to lack of support, cultural bias within the workforce and societal pressures of balancing work and family.
Taking the time and effort to invest in education and awareness is key. Modernizing Medicine supports the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education at Palm Beach State College with awareness events throughout the year. We also offer robust internship programs to students with both technical and non-technical career interests. Through these programs, we showcase the many opportunities that are available within our organization. As a company we also expose interns to our culture of inclusion, and connect them with employees, particularly women, across the organization who are forging paths ahead of them. We hold panels on issues that young women confront in the workplace in general, and especially in technology, where our experienced leaders (both men and women) share stories about how they might have faced and overcome similar challenges.
CORPORATE INVESTMENT IN WOMEN
At Modernizing Medicine, there are various initiatives that help define our company’s innovative employee culture, many of those include catering to and fostering the potential of our talented women. Modernizing Medicine’s Women in Innovation and Technology (MMwit) is a community of women (and men too!) with a mission to develop and enable women in Modernizing Medicine to lead and innovate. It is a program that has blossomed over the past two years with a growing membership base, increased number of organized events and various leadership opportunities. The group brings together a cross-section of women from all departments each with different skills sets, experience levels and interests. It’s a cohesive organization that unifies different groups within our company with a shared mission. It provides an opportunity for those involved to get out of their comfort zone to take on roles and learn skills that are different from their day to day tasks, and that helps develop our internal talent. From internal company events, to events that support our community, MMwit provides leadership opportunities that help the women in our workforce develop confidence, collaboration skills and initiative.
INVESTMENT IN THE COMMUNITY
It speaks volumes when a company invests in their people to make an impact both within their company and outside of their office walls. Our MMwit group supports PACE Center for Girls, an organization that helps at-risk girls in school. Our successful women have had opportunities to impact and influence the girls in this program through career days, hour of code and job shadowing. MMwit has also supported the Dress for Success program, raising both money and awareness to help women gain professional employment. Our female leaders participate in South Florida Business Journal’s Mentoring Monday event every year, helping to engage with and mentor other women professionals in our community. We speak on community panels, participate in local leadership programs and take active roles in countless other community activities aimed at raising awareness and improving gender balance in technology and in all organizations. It’s a chain reaction of positivity and mentorship. When we help engage and foster development with our team, they are then able to pass on their experiences to help transform other women when they need it most.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE
What do you think of when someone says they work at a technology company? Maybe you assume that they are on the IT or product development teams or are coding software. While that certainly may be accurate, there are other roles that are vital contributors to the growth and health of technology organizations. Sales, finance, marketing and accounting roles, for example, are all in high demand for these organizations as the technology industry grows. So before you think that you don’t possess the skills to work for a technology company, I encourage you to reconsider that thought.
I see a bright future ahead for women in the workforce, specifically in technology-based companies. There is a groundswell happening in the technology world, with not only wide recognition about gender disparity, but also deliberate action. Modernizing Medicine is committed to motivate and encourage women to seek out technology roles in any organization, as well as non-technical roles within technology organizations. We are also committed as technology leaders in our community to foster and support growth for women who are already in the tech workforce. The opportunities are plenty. As Sheryl Sandberg said, “Technology is an agent of change — a force that shifts the way we live for the better. Today, all women need tech. And tech needs women.”
IN HER ROLE AT MODERNIZING MEDICINE, KAREN OVERSEES ALL FINANCIAL, HUMAN RESOURCES AND OPERATIONS FOR MODERNIZING MEDICINE, AND FOCUSES ON CORPORATE STRATEGY AND PLANNING. MODERNIZING MEDICINE IS AN AWARD-WINNING HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGY COMPANY AND IS HEADQUARTERED IN THE RESEARCH PARK AT FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY. KAREN BRINGS MORE THAN TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING AND OPERATIONAL EXPERIENCE TO MODERNIZING MEDICINE. SHE HAS BROAD FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE IN TECHNOLOGY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS INCLUDING ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE, B2C TECHNOLOGY, SYSTEMS INTEGRATION, WEB HOSTING AND MANAGED SERVICES. SHE IS STRATEGICALLY MINDED WITH A PROVEN RECORD OF DRIVING PROFIT IMPROVEMENT, LEADING BUSINESS GROWTH, ESTABLISHING AND SCALING OPERATIONS AND BUILDING OPERATIONALLY-FOCUSED TEAMS. PRIOR TO MODERNIZING MEDICINE, KAREN SERVED AS THE CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER FOR CAMPUS MANAGEMENT CORP, A SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY THAT PROVIDES POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS WITH ADMINISTRATIVE AND ACADEMIC SOLUTIONS. KAREN ALSO SERVED AS SENIOR DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS PLANNING AND FINANCE FOR VERIO, INC., AN NTT AMERICA COMPANY THAT PROVIDES GLOBAL WEB HOSTING AND MANAGED SERVICES. KAREN BEGAN HER CAREER IN PUBLIC ACCOUNTING WITH NINE YEARS OF ADVISORY AND ATTESTATION MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE SERVING BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATELY-HELD COMPANIES ACROSS A WIDE RANGE OF INDUSTRIES. KAREN IS A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT AND A CERTIFIED GLOBAL MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANT. SHE HOLDS AN MBA WITH HONORS AND A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN ACCOUNTING, BOTH FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA.