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How Can We Get More Women in Tech — and Support Their Growth?

A champion of bringing more women into the gov tech workforce, Executive Director of Enterprise GRC and Resiliency Anushree Bag talks about attracting women to the job and guiding them through a career path.

Indiana Executive Director of ERC and Resiliency Anushree Bag
Anushree Bag
Government Technology/David Kidd
As of this writing, nine of the 50 states have a woman CIO. When Anushree Bag, executive director of GRC and Resiliency in Indiana, heard that statistic last week at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Midyear Conference, she was surprised.

“Explain that number to me," she said, “because demographics are 50/50.”

The gap between the number of women and men in technology roles, particularly in government, is not a new topic. Organizations and nonprofits exist throughout the country to get women and girls interested in — and committed to — STEM subjects.

Bag, whose background is in electrical engineering, is passionate about changing the numbers. She wants not only to get more women in gov tech roles, she also wants them to rise through the ranks, as she has in Indiana, where her team oversees governance, risk and compliance for nearly 100 statewide policies and 1,500 applications. When she came to the role, she wanted to find a group for women like her to support each other in a male-dominated field, but there wasn’t one in the state government.

So she started Government Women in Technology (GWIT).

Having this safe space for women, as Bag describes it, is essential to building support and camaraderie. But from the beginning she wanted to be sure that meetings weren’t “complaining sessions.”

“Talk about the challenges,” she said, “but more importantly talk about what you did to overcome those challenges, because this is supposed to be a session which is energizing, enabling, elevating, empowering, and you really need other women to look at you as role models.”

And while having women well-represented in gov tech leadership roles is the goal, that means getting more women trained in tech skills. To fuel that effort, GWIT created a group that helps high school and college students, as well as women returning from incarceration, to gain skills they need to enter the technology workforce. Because if you want more women at the top, Bag said, you need more women coming in at the bottom as well.

One thing Bag sees as key to both attracting women to gov tech roles and supporting them throughout their careers is recognizing the unique challenges that come with the territory. She explained that everything from job descriptions to mentorship are essential for diversifying the public-sector IT workforce.

Up next is expanding GWIT beyond Indiana.

“I do think that my vision is to see this going locally, nationally,” Bag said.

And Indiana certainly isn’t the only state with an eye on diversifying their staff. Tennessee’s Diversity and Inclusion Council launched in 2020 as a dedicated platform for creating a more inclusive workforce within the Strategic Technology Solutions agency.

“The best thing is just to get started,” Tennessee CIO Stephanie Dedmon told GovTech at the NASCIO conference. “There’s so many pieces to diversity, equity and inclusion that it can be overwhelming. But just begin with a small plan, and learn and grow from there."
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including <i>Government Technology</i>, <i>Governing</i>, <i>Industry Insider, Emergency Management</i> and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.