Technology

Group offers support to thousands of women in tech

PDXWIT grew from 15 to 5,300 women in just six years

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- In a rare move, employees at Google recently sent a unified message to the top by walking off the job to protest sexual harassment and the way the company handles complaints. 

The New York Times reported Google protected three male executives from sexual harassment claims, letting two leave with hefty payouts.

Locally, there's a group that helps women, who are also severely underrepresented in the tech industry. Given the number of its members has grown more than 300 times, PDX WIT founder Megan Bigelow said it's clear support is needed.

Bigelow, the director of customer reliability engineering at Heptio, started PDXWIT six years ago to offer mentorship, job boards and resources including regular meet ups.

"We actually had 15 people when we started," Bigelow said. "That was at the very first meet-up and now we have over 5,300." 

Group member Chloe Elliot used PDXWIT to get an internship as a support engineer.

"It must be the right thing because I'm just having the time of life doing it," Elliot said. 

The 40-year-old mom and veteran turned student is earning a masters in business administration.

"I found where I want to be," she said. "Tech is where I need to be."

Women make up less than 20% of tech employees in the United States. Some in PDXWIT report feeling like they don't have a voice or opportunities or even feeling unsafe.

"It speaks volumes for the need for this," Bigelow said. 

With PDXWIT, Bigelow wants to empower and encourage women in tech because while times are changing, many milestones still need to be reached.

"I just want to bring as many people along as need us to bring them along," Bigelow said.

Learn more about PDXWIT


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