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Walker Sands Calls on Rosie the Riveter to Help CompTIA #MakeTechHerStory
Women currently earn less than 18% of computer science degrees each year and hold less than 22% of core technology occupations in the U.S.
Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a nonprofit trade association for the tech industry, has long observed the lack of women in the IT industry, and approached Walker Sands to help champion a movement of change.
Why Do So Few Girls Pursue Careers in IT?
Before research and content creation begins, Walker Sands starts by asking one question: "Why do so few girls pursue careers in IT?"
A common industry excuse rises to the surface: "Girls don’t like tech as much as boys."
CompTIA and Walker Sands set out to challenge and demystify this perception by gathering measurable data, both quantitative and qualitative, and creating a multichannel campaign to reach those who can affect change.
Challenging the Status Quo
The campaign goals include:
- Identify the real reasons for the gender gap in IT
- Motivate teachers, parents, role models and young women to change the status quo
- Solidify CompTIA’s reputation as an organization committed to promoting diversity in the tech industry through national media coverage
Going Straight to the Source
One of the biggest challenges facing the team are preconceived notions and gender stereotypes around this issue. CompTIA wants to unearth current data around women in IT and communicate this information to those who can promote real change – parents, teachers, industry leaders and the young women.
Walker Sands finds that existing industry research relies too heavily on esoteric surveys, and the team knows that if they want to break through the noise, they have to go directly to the girls themselves.
Walker Sands leads four focus groups where girls ages 10 to 17 are shown six photos of women and asked to identify which ones work in the tech industry. None of the girls correctly acknowledge that all of the women depicted work in tech.
Walker Sands simultaneously conducts an online survey of 200 boys and 200 girls between the ages of 10 to 17 to identify the difference between their perceptions of tech careers.
Discovering Diminishing Interest and Limited Resources
The data gathered reveals three key findings:
- Girls’ interest in IT careers diminishes as they get older
- Girls have limited information on what IT careers involve
- STEM curriculum isn’t enough to encourage girls to join the IT workforce
Although the data from the focus groups is useful, CompTIA has little experience talking to and engaging with young women. They need an engaging multichannel campaign that packages this data in a way that appeals to the campaign’s four main audiences.
Four Audiences, One Objective
The #MakeTechHerStory campaign aims to challenge the status quo by delivering its message to four distinct groups:
- IT Industry professionals
- Girls ages 10–17
Although each group holds its own importance, given the primary goal of identifying the reasons for the gender gap in IT, the girls aged 10-17 were selected as the primary audience.
Reimagining Rosie to Re-define a Generation
Walker Sands reimagines “history” into “her-story” and creates the tagline #MakeTechHerStory.
Next, Walker Sands draws upon a recognizable symbol of women who entered the workforce during World War II, Rosie the Riveter. A modernization of this cultural icon is created, and Rosie becomes the visual symbol of the campaign, as well as a unifying theme for women in tech.
A Full-Scale Multichannel Campaign Spotlighting Rosie
To reach the campaign’s target audiences, CompTIA needs a compelling multichannel campaign that is interactive, shareable and inspiring for various demographics.
The Microsite Centers the Campaign
Walker Sands creates a microsite that serves as the centerpiece of the campaign and houses all of the campaign materials including the e-book, video and unique avatar builder for visitors to envision Rosie in their own likeness.
The Avatar Builder Ignites Interaction
A custom coded Rosie the Riveter avatar widget allows site visitors to build their own personalized Rosie for sharing on social media using the campaign hashtag, #MakeTechHerStory.
The Avatar Builder Empowers Everyone
The tool invited full participation by reflecting the diversity of women interested in working IT. With customizable hair, skin, eye, clothing and background options, more than 10 million different avatars were possible.
The E-Book Tells the Story
A 30-page e-book is created, filled with the results of the quantitative and qualitative research, which helps to lay the foundation of the entire campaign.
Lights! Camera! Learn!
Each campaign asset complemented the other. For instance, the e-book leads to a three-minute documentary-style video, which includes footage from focus groups and local educational groups, as well as 1:1 interviews with the girls.
A Direct Mailer Drives the Message Home
To drive campaign awareness and social media engagement, a direct mailer containing a replica of Rosie’s signature red polka dot bandana and a branded postcard is sent to 350 prominent tech industry leaders and influencers such as STEM teachers and community groups like Tech Girlz and Girls Who Code.
Leveraging Social Media for National Impact
The message is primarily aimed toward girls, an unfamiliar audience for CompTIA and a traditionally hard-to-reach group in general. A comprehensive paid and organic social media strategy is developed to reach them.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are all effectively used to encourage sharing of the #MakeTechHerStory hashtag to spread awareness of the campaign and inspire engagement. Targeted communities include mommy bloggers, women working in IT, grassroots organizations, women-centric media outlets and blogs like Brit+Co and PureWow.
Making Tech Her Story
The results of the campaign exceed CompTIA’s expectations with 180 media placements in national business, industry trade and consumer news outlets, including The Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CIO and ZDNet, among others.
The website earns nearly 10,000 unique monthly visitors, driving more than 1000 e-book downloads. The Facebook Live campaign announcement leads to 35,000 video views.
Organic and paid social media promotion helps create more than 600,000 social media impressions and draws nearly 3,000 new social followers. And the Rosie the Riveter avatar builder results in the creation of thousands of custom avatars that are shared on social media.
Real World Impact
The campaign achieves real world impact by helping to change girls’ perceptions of their role in the tech industry.
“I realized that if I were to pursue a technology career — or any career path I am passionate and put my mind to — I can accomplish anything even if I am a girl. I am dedicated, motivated and have the positive mindset. I can make it happen.”
— Student at Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School
Results to Date
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