How CompTIA is addressing gender inequities in the tech industry

CompTIA reinterpreted a modern Rosie the Riveter to encourage women to build mobile apps, manage the Internet of Things, and secure cyber assets.

How CompTIA is addressing gender inequities in the tech industry

Company: CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association)
Campaign: #MakeTechHerStory
Agency: Walker Sands Communications
Duration of campaign: September - November 2016

The Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, wants to inspire girls, tech industry leaders, educators, and parents to close the gender gap in the technology industry.

In September, the non-profit trade association set out with a campaign called Make Tech Her Story. Today, less than 18% of computer science degrees are held by women. These statistics underscore one of the tech industry’s greatest challenges: Increasing the number of women who study and later pursue a career in technology.

Founded in 1982, CompTIA strives to advance global interests of IT professionals and organizations.

CompTIA partnered with Walker Sands Communications to launch a multi-channel national campaign that would generate awareness about the disparity of women in the technology industry. The goal was to reach industry professionals, parents, educators, and girls with actionable data that could help drive change.

CompTIA wanted to use a powerful image to help illustrate the Make Tech Her Story campaign. Rosie the Riveter, the cultural icon representing women who joined the workforce in World War II, rallied women to take up work in factories and shipyards. The campaign team looked to reinterpret a modern Rosie, who encourages women to build mobile apps, manage the Internet of Things, and secure cyber assets.

The campaign team developed a tagline to represent the focus of the campaign efforts: What needs to change to inspire girls’ pursuit of IT careers.

Media outreach efforts focused on gaining momentum for the campaign in business-centric outlets.

"We targeted mainstream business outlets such as Fox Business, Forbes, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur in order to generate widespread awareness of the campaign," explained Annie Gudorf, account director at Walker Sands. "Other target audiences included lifestyle news websites and blogs, like Brit + Co., PureWow, WiseBread, and local news websites, such as Crain’s Chicago Business, ChicagoInno, and San Francisco Chronicle."

CompTIA and Walker Sands also wanted to tap influencers to promote the initiative on their respective social channels. The branded hashtag #MakeTechHerStory was created for the campaign.

The Make Tech Her Story microsite was developed to go along with the campaign. Visitors could interact with the initiative by building their own personalized Rosie avatar, participating in a social media photo-sharing promotion, watching a video featuring one-on-one interviews with young girls about the tech industry, and accessing the site's career resources.

CompTIA commissioned four focus groups of young women in the Chicago area and quantitative research through an online survey to inform the multiple campaign components. In addition to the microsite, the campaign team developed a 20-page e-book featuring the research findings and a video that highlights the legacy of women in the tech industry, including captured moments from focus group conversations.

On September 20, the campaign team published a press release to announce the campaign launch. That same day, CompTIA team members came together to shoot a Facebook Live video, which reached more than 17,000 followers.

The campaign incorporated social promotion featuring 20 influencers who wrote about and shared campaign content with their followers.

"To help drive traffic to social channels, we connected with influencers who cover lifestyle, parenting, and family trends. Many of these bloggers have a solid social media presence and loyal readership," added Gudorf.

The campaign also featured a physical element involving one of the campaign's most iconic images.

"Branded ‘Rosie the Riveter’ bandanas were given to CompTIA members and partners at tradeshows, conferences, and special events to ignite conversation on the topic and encourage photo sharing on social media," said Gudorf.

Media outreach efforts garnered 111 total media placements, with more than 25 feature pieces appearing in top-tier outlets, including: Fox Business, Forbes, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Chicago Today on Fox and, WGN Radio.

Through social influencer activities, 25 bloggers shared the campaign on social media, reaching nearly 500,000 people. Notable social sharing included HaveSippy, which reached 127,000 users; Philzendia, which reached 107,000 users; and OutnumbereHYPERLINK ""d Mama which reached 39,800 users.

Thus far, 30,000 people have viewed the campaign's flagship video across various social channels and YouTube.

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