When she founded her technology business in 1979, Brenda Stallings did not know she would be overseeing one of the most successful women-owned technology companies nearly 40 years later. Today, Stallings is CEO of Matrix Integration, the IT infrastructure partner for more than 1,000 businesses and schools in Indiana and beyond.
This year, in honor of National Business Women’s Week™, October 15 through October 19, which is sponsored by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, Stallings is offering advice to help women achieve success in often male-dominated fields. Stallings, who has received numerous awards over the years for her leadership in technology and business, knows that by working together, girls and women can make a major impact on the technology industry.
“With faster projected job growth and higher salaries, jobs in technology are some of the most rewarding in the working world,” said Stallings. “We want to help girls and women follow their passions, and give them the support they need to have a long-term career in the technology industry.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in computing and technology are expected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026. 1 Tech job wages are much higher, with a median annual salary of $84,580 in 2017, compared to a median annual wage of all professions of $37,690.1 However, even in high school, boys outnumber girls in the number of students studying computer science, 2 and women currently make up about 25 percent of the IT labor force, which has fallen ever since it reached a high of 36 percent in 1991.3
Matrix Integration’s Brenda Stallings’s top advice on how to break through a male-dominated industry:
- In tech, creativity counts. “Women with a love of math and science have an opportunity to bring a creative, collaborative presence to the work world and to lead companies. Women usually are great jugglers with organizational skills to get much accomplished. They’re often also logical thinkers which is a trait much needed in technology.”
- Collaborate and boost up other women. “I think girls can feel alone in the STEM world. This time of their life is very important. That’s why I started a program called ‘Blended Coders’ for middle school girls. It’s taught by women in the industry, and it’s building a bridge between women in tech and the girls in the next generation.”
- Don’t shy away from the hard stuff. “Sometimes it’s tempting to focus on what’s cool or fun in business. But you also need to do the difficult things you might not like. You need to learn those skills – or better yet, surround yourself with people who can teach you.”
- Build your interpersonal and social skills. “We joke about ‘brains on a stick’ – or a stereotypical tech-type who might not have the best communication skills. Learn how to communicate well and understand others’ needs based on where they’re at in their journey in life.”
For more insight into women in technology careers from Stallings and other women who work and collaborate with Matrix, see this video from Matrix.
Stallings and her company have won numerous awards for diversity and women in technology over the years, including:
- CRN Women of the Channel
- WBE of the Year, presented by Great Lakes WBENC
- Indiana Excellence Award by US Commerce & Trade Research Institute
- Champions of Diversity Recipient by Indiana Minority Business Magazine
- Ingram Women in Technology Award
- Athena Leadership Award for Dubois County
- Enterprising Women of the Year Award
- Women Excel Bloomington Award
For more information, tips and industry coverage, visit the TechKnow blog.
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Matrix Integration is a strategic IT infrastructure company that has been in business for nearly 40 years. Strategic partners include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aruba, Cisco Systems, Meraki, VMware, Microsoft, Mitel, Veeam, Trend Micro, Google, Scale Computing, Fortinet and Barracuda. With clients regionally and offices in Indiana and Kentucky, Matrix Integration works closely with businesses and institutions to provide personalized consulting and managed services along with networking, data center, security, collaboration and computing solutions. Matrix Integration has been recognized on numerous industry lists including CRN Solution Provider 500, CRN Managed Service Provider Elite 150, CRN Women of the Channel, CRN Tech Elite 250 and Diversity Business Top Business.
About the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW Foundation)
Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW Foundation) works with women, employers and policymakers to create successful workplaces that practice and embrace diversity, equity and work-life balance. Through our groundbreaking research and our unique role as a neutral convener of employers and employees, BPW Foundation leads the way in developing and advocating for policies and programs that benefit both women and businesses. BPW Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer and Information Technology Occupations. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
2 US News and World Report, “AP Test Shows Wide Gender Gap in Computer Science, Physics,” Jan. 14, 2014. https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/01/14/ap-test-shows-wide-gender-gap-in-computer-science-physics
3 Women in Tech: The Facts, National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT), 2016. https://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/womenintech_facts_fullreport_05132016.pdf