The Women’s March on Washington, DC and Philadelphia - January 21st
This Saturday, more than 200,000 women are expected to march in Washington, D.C. on the day after President-elect Trump’s inauguration to make a statement about our role in society. That number is even larger when you consider the other 370 cities hosting their own local versions of the march. I am proud to be a part of this in my hometown of Philadelphia and even prouder to witness the larger community of women in America come together in solidarity and support for women’s rights.
I am exhilarated by the debate around women and this march, especially what it will mean come Sunday morning. I firmly believe we are on the cusp of a new day for women in America, and that we must encourage an open discussion about the things that matter most to us and how we want to define ourselves in relation to our fellow citizens.
To that end, I am compelled to share why I am marching this Saturday. My hope is that others will share their own motivations and perspectives now and throughout the coming weeks as a way to perpetuate the conversation and deliver lasting change. In this way, we can foster an open dialogue with everyone.
So why do I march?
I march to economically empower women in America.
At first, I impulsively signed on to march because of dissatisfaction with the election and what I viewed as an attack on women. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I need to stand for something positive versus angrily shout about something negative. At the core of my fear and anger is my desire to give voice to the girls and women I represent both as a technologist and the leader of a nonprofit. It is for them that I will march and speak this Saturday.
There exists a widening financial gap between men and women in America, and it has significant financial, social and health implications for everyone. Greater earning power and potential is critical to putting men and women on equal footing in this country. By normalizing women in the workforce, we can provide a path for girls to shape their own careers and attain higher pay and even higher trajectories. Achieving this economic empowerment is the only way to create the lasting change that will obviate the need for more marches.
Since I began advocating for more girls to pursue careers in tech over nine years ago, the conversation has certainly advanced, but it remains far from ideal. Today, our industry is facing a severe shortage of workers, currently estimated to be one million job openings over the next three years. It is statistically impossible for males to fill all these open positions, but we do not have enough qualified female candidates to make up the shortfall. It is an economic imperative then for these businesses that more women join the technology field. And as technology seeps into every imaginable field – even modern farming operations require some level of mobile and software expertise – it makes the role of women a workforce-wide one and even more urgent.
Consider the economic and social implications of succeeding in our effort to enter more women into technology-related fields. Jobs in technology consistently deliver a premium salary increase over non-technology occupations. According to 2015 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for women is $38,740. By comparison, the median salary of a computer programmer in 2015 was $61,000.
And given that nearly half of all women are the sole or primary breadwinners in their families (Center for American Progress), the potential for women to markedly increase their salary has significant implications far down the line: less reliance on subsidy programs, better nutrition for families, more potential to build assets, and – ideally – a greater perception and role in society as a whole.
That’s why I march. To raise awareness for the disparity in women in technology and work in general; as a way to swell those ranks and help place women on equal economic footing. If even one woman is made aware of the opportunity in front of her because of my participation or my words this Saturday, that is one more woman that can vote with her voice, her ballot and her wallet. In this way we can continue to move forward, stronger than we were before.
So, why do YOU march?