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The Future of Tech: National Center for Women & Information Technology 2024 Summit Recape

The Future of Tech: Report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology 2024 Summit

As members of the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Workforce Alliance, Culture Foundry gets the opportunity to attend NCWIT’s invaluable annual Summit. We’re also proud to call NCWIT a client (since 2019), and while Zoom meetings get the day-to-day work done, there’s no substitute for connecting in person, particularly as we climb out of the virtual-only COVID era.

This year, I decided to attend and was very glad I did. Some of the insights and inspirations I gleaned from the event:

Attendees listen to panel discussions at the 2024 NCWIT Summit in Kansas City, Mo.
📷 Hans Bjordahl

There’s no virtual substitute for the energy in the room

Virtual technologies can amplify, augment, connect, and drive attendance to in-person events, but there’s no substitute for the energy experienced when people show up in person to work together toward a common goal. Attendees’ reactions to shared stories of the journey to inclusion in technology – the wins and the frustrations – would ripple across the room in a way they would never ripple across a Zoom video conference.

The tools matter greatly

We’ve built several tools for NCWIT over the years, including the NCWIT.org website, the Aspirations in Computing platform and the Tech Inclusion Journey platform. Looking at the constantly evolving features and issues lists for these tools is one thing. Meeting the people who use these tools directly to achieve a mission of vital importance is quite another. Aspirations in Computing is a complex interplay of student applicants, educators, judges, and community organizers, and if there’s sand in the gears everyone feels it. The Tech Inclusion Journey brings clarity about inclusion in technology – and how to systematically improve it – to members of the NCWIT Alliances that are a who’swho of heft and influence. It’s a heady responsibility to get it right.

NCWIT connects talent to opportunity

My favorite session was the mentoring roundtables where NCWIT students and award winners had the opportunity to grill experienced Alliance members directly about lessons learned from their years in tech. The next wave of talent is here; they’re sharp, they’re inquisitive, and they’re clear-eyed about the future they want.

It’s a crossroads moment in the future of tech

Changing the status quo doesn’t come without challenge. In the wider culture, there’s an election year afoot, a DEI backlash is underway, and AI is resetting the stakes once again. Changing the status quo also doesn’t come with unanimous agreement. I had a renewed appreciation for NCWIT leadership’s ability to give its speakers, award winners, and constituents space to share their genuine perspectives, while also consistently and confidently recentering on what we’re all trying to do together.

Conclusion

You should join NCWIT (via the K-12, Higher Ed or Workforce Alliance) and next year you should go to the Summit. We’ll meet you there. Note: Several sessions from the NCWIT 2024 Summit can be found on NCWIT’s YouTube channel.

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