State technology officials in Colorado have been chosen by the National Center of Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) as the only public-sector representatives in a national program aimed at growing the number of women in the technology and computing workforce.

Gov. John Hickenlooper's Office of Information Technology (OIT), led by state CIO Kristin D. Russell, has made a two-year commitment to the Pacesetters program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Qualcomm and Google. The Colorado OIT is joined in the NCWIT Pacesetters program by private-sector companies including Aetna, Intel and Cisco, and universities like Purdue and Carnegie Mellon.

"Participants [in the Pacesetters program] use innovative recruitment and retention methods to tap new talent pools and introduce interventions for those at risk of leaving, with the goal of bringing significant 'net new' women to their organizations," according to a press release issued by the OIT.

NCWIT statistics show that women currently occupy just one-fourth of all computing-related jobs in the United States, and receive only 18 percent of computing and information sciences degrees earned today in the U.S.

“Women have been under-represented in the information technology field and the numbers continue to decline,” said Russell, one of Government Technology's 2013 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers. “We are honored to have been selected into this important program.”

Kristin Russell, CIO, Colorado. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Office of Information Technology