PNC Sits for Women in Technology

Women make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, but hold just 25 percent of all technology and computing roles. See how PNC is working to change that.

Sometimes you have to sit to take a stand.

That’s the slogan for Sit With Me – a global advocacy campaign created by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). While women make up more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, they hold only 25 percent of all computing jobs. Sit With Me is designed to change those statistics by inviting more women to sit at the “technical design table.” The campaign uses a symbolic red chair to invite men and women to “sit” in support of diversity. Sit With Me is part of a larger effort at PNC to encourage women to pursue careers in technology.

PNC joined the campaign by presenting its own Sit With Me event, where Debbie Guild, chief security officer and chief information security officer, spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion at PNC. In addition, keynote speaker Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT, discussed the role of unconscious bias in the workplace and how to create a more inclusive, effective environment.

“Inclusion and diversity are a driving force behind innovation at PNC," said Guild.

We are proud to work with NCWIT to encourage more women to pursue careers in the field of technology, and we hope that many of them will join the ranks of an incredibly talented and diverse team of people at PNC.

Sanders noted that technology positions tend to have high turnover rates for underrepresented groups (including women) – this isn’t because men and women are “wired” differently or because they want different things out of life. Instead, it’s most often due to the culture surrounding technology development.

“American society is biased about gender and technology. Most people have a very strong association of men with science and technology, while they tend to associate women with liberal arts fields,” Sanders explained. “So if you’re a woman in technology, you’re working against people’s expectations.”

These expectations often are displayed unconsciously in subtle comments and actions, but can have a large effect on women and underrepresented groups. Ultimately, these pressures can discourage women from speaking up in meetings or taking on leadership roles, and can contribute to their discounting the strength of their own performance or even lead them to leave the technology field altogether.

Steps to Take

Sanders says small, consistent actions can help employees and companies encourage women and underrepresented groups to persist in roles where they can bring valuable insight to innovation:

  • Include both men and women in everything – Don’t depend solely on underrepresented employees to advance diversity and inclusion goals – everyone should be working on it.
  • Implement change personally – Take personal accountability to realize, recognize and respond to biases in the workplace.
  • Adopt a spirit of inquiry – When you hear comments that make assumptions about people, ask questions. Talk about how different people accomplish things. Be curious.

“Most importantly, don’t give up – encouraging women to take valuable, non-traditional roles is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Sanders.

You're not stuck in a culture. You are the culture. If you personally commit every day to see unconscious bias, you will never un-see it. Then you can challenge biases and create real, meaningful change.

Lucy Sanders
Lucy Sanders is CEO and co-founder of the National Center for Women and Information Technology

The NCWIT is a community of nearly 900 organizations nationwide working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology.