One Columbia business owner aims to break gender stereotypes in IT
COLUMBIA - At EasyPC, Jessie Yankee calls the shots.
Yankee has served as the the CEO of the IT and computer repair business since its opening in 2011. She said some people are surprised to find a woman working in this field.
"I'll go out to do a bid or service some of the computers myself sometimes and people are always shocked to see a woman in IT," Yankee said.
According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women held 57 percent of all professional occupations in 2015. However, they held only 25 percent in computing occupations. Yankee said the gender difference is apparent.
"When I go to conferences sometimes I'm the only woman there," she said. "You would think that people would talk to me a lot at those conferences, but they don't."
To reduce the gender disparity in IT, Yankee encourages women to consider the field.
"If they're looking for an environment or a job that they think they can be pioneers in, IT would be huge," she said.
March 8 is recognized as International Women's Day and as a woman, Yankee said involving herself in the community has helped her find success.
"Join the Women's Network, join the chamber, join your BNI groups, join all those things and get out there and meet people," she said. "That's the best way to get your name out there and really network with some awesome people,"
Erica Pefferman, who serves as chair of the Women's Network, said Columbia offers a great community and economy for women in business.
"We have a lot of women business leaders and women business owners in our city," she said. "I think it's easy for us to look around and forget that maybe that's not the case on a national level or within specific industries."
Pefferman said introducing STEM fields (defined as degree fields in science, technology, engineering, and math) to women from a young age is an easy way to encourage future career paths.
"When Hidden Figures came out I took my daughter to go see the movie," she said.
Pefferman said these conversations can make a difference.
"When we take our daughters and teach them historical themes of how women really made a difference, when we teach them that it's cool to like math, when we encourage them to take extracurricular activities that are not 'typical gender roles' I think that's going to help them to normalize it for them," Pefferman said.