Eastman committed to initiative to increase women in IT

Diversity and inclusion in the workforce is an area of utmost emphasis for Eastman. We know that people are the heart of our success, and diversity and inclusion are key components in that equation. Because of the national trend that shows declining numbers of women choosing careers in computers and information technology, Eastman has launched a specific outreach effort to help reverse that trend.

Eastman is working with high school and college educators to increase the numbers of girls and women who choose an educational concentration in computers and other technical fields. We have also joined the select list of NCWIT Pacesetters, which comes on the heels of a very successful inaugural Sit With Me event in 2015.

Sarah Bastian is an advanced systems analyst with the Eastman Information Technology Department. She spends a lot of time on her specialty, information security, and another IT focus for her – increasing diversity and inclusion – is never far from her mind.

Bastian spearheaded the first Sit With Me event, and she said the work is far from done. The turnout of Eastman team members and executive leaders at the first event, plus all the work that has happened since, is evidence that Eastman is serious about doing its part to turn the tide.

“Sit With Me was a wonderful event and it’s important that we joined NCWIT Pacesetters,” Bastian said, “and these are just two facets of an overall outreach initiative. We have a great opportunity in front of us to affect change. We’re in this together, and we’re fortunate that we have leaders at Eastman who believe in this and are committed to diversity and inclusion.””

Since the Sit With Me kickoff in summer 2015, Eastman IT members have traveled to Radford University and Virginia Tech University to partner on events that are part of the initiative. Eastman professionals will continue to collaborate with high school educators to illustrate the wide spectrum of career potential in technical fields throughout the remainder of 2015 and into early 2016. In the spring of 2016, Eastman will hold a Sit With Me event at NC State University.

Bastian said that despite the fact women comprise 57 percent of the U.S. workforce, they account for only 26 percent of IT professionals. If you look at the higher education pipeline of students who will fill future jobs, the numbers are even starker. Only 18 percent of computer science majors are women, and at major research universities, that number falls to 14 percent.

“We’re all interested in making the IT industry better, because in doing that we can increase productivity and collaboration and innovation,” Bastian said. “The research is clear that one of the best ways to do that is through diversity of thought.”

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