Celebrate women’s impact in tech industry

Lori Nguyen remembers attending a tech-industry trade show 20 years ago in Las Vegas and assessing the crowd.

“It was 85 percent men,” said Nguyen, who now owns three local tech businesses.

Today, the share of Las Vegas women in tech jobs is vastly improved — some research suggests the percentage is higher here than the national average — as Las Vegas and Nevada embrace the tech sector. From the startups funded by Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project to Switch’s plan to build millions more square feet for data storage, a strong tech industry has emerged.

Nguyen, who owns HiTech Vegas, and her colleagues at Girls in Tech and Women Advancing want the women who are vital to that development to be recognized.

The companies are collaborating on the second Las Vegas Women in Technology Awards, which honor women who have influenced the tech industry, demonstrated innovation and initiative and dedicated themselves to furthering the industry and others in it.

Applications are being accepted through April 15. Awards will be given in five categories — High Tech Woman of the Year, Rising Star, Community Service, Entrepreneur and Mentor.

Last year, when the window for applications was shorter, about 200 people were nominated. Nguyen hopes to draw a much higher number this year.

Nominees from all sectors are welcome in all categories.

“The Rising Star award, for example, doesn’t need to be a startup,” Nguyen said. “A woman could have accomplished a great deal in a short time or established a business in a new market.”

Nationally, women who hold jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields earn about 30 percent more than women who work in other professions, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. But while women have about half the jobs in the nation, they account for fewer than 25 percent of STEM jobs, the Commerce Department found.

The goal of the Women in Technology Awards program is to recognize women’s accomplishments and encourage others to pursue tech careers.

“A lot of women in tech fields can be isolated,” Nguyen said. “Either they’re self-employed or just go-go-go. This gives them a platform to collaborate, to celebrate their achievements and to share projects and ideas they’ve been working on.”

So, Las Vegas, here’s a chance to shine a spotlight on the women helping our tech industry grow and thrive. Visit vegaswomentechawards.net to nominate the worthy women you know.

Tags: The Sunday