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Study: Baltimore a top city for women in tech

10.23.13 BALTIMORE, MD- Deborah Tillet, President of the ETC, shown here at their new location in the King Cork & Seal Bldg at 101 N. Haven Street. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

‘It’s no longer taboo or aspirational for women to want’ work in technology, says Deb Tillett, CEO of Emerging Technology Centers in Baltimore. ‘Young women who see other women doing it say, “Yeah, I can do that.”’ (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

A new study has named Baltimore the No. 3 city in the country for women in technology.

SmartAsset ranked 59 cities using U.S. Census Bureau data on the pay gap between men and women, income after housing costs, tech jobs filled by women and four-year tech employment growth. Baltimore finished behind only Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Mo., and moved up one spot from last year’s rankings.

Kristen Valdes, CEO of b.well, said the ranking reflected the growth of the Baltimore tech community.

“I was proud to see Baltimore at the top of that list,” she said. “I feel like there is huge momentum in Baltimore to get more females involved in tech.”

Valdes said the number of women in technology leadership positions has helped grow the community, including Jen Meyer at Betamore and Deb Tillett at Emerging Technology Centers.

“In our tech sector, there are more than our share of women in charge,” Tillett said.

The growing representation of women in the field has made it easier for other women to want to join.

“It’s no longer taboo or aspirational for women to want to do this,” Tillett said. “Young women who see other women doing it say, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’”

In her own career, Tillet said it has been important for her to give back her time and leadership so women can see another woman involved in the field. That’s meant doing panels discussions and offering mentorships.

“As dead tired as I am, I do it,” she said.

It’s also helped, Valdes said, that with women in leadership positions across the industry, more women are pitching their ideas to other women.

“It certainly breaks down the barrier when you walk in and you’re presenting to a woman,” she said.

Both Valdes and Tillett said another factor in the Baltimore tech community’s growth for women has been the city’s small-town feel.

“I think the opportunity quotient here in Baltimore is over the top,” Tillett said. “You are one degree of separation from anyone you need to know.”

Other reasons for the growing numbers of women in the field have included an emphasis on closing gender disparities and the advancement of technology, she said.

Valdes also said that the growing health IT community in the Baltimore area has provided more opportunities to women.

“There’s a lot of people who are very invested in getting startups (in the region),” she said. “There’s a lot more opportunities for women in tech when there’s a lot more tech companies.”

Still, the SmartAsset numbers showed there is a way to go before the city has full equality in the tech community.

Women in tech in Baltimore make 88.4 percent of what men do while they fill 32.5 percent of the jobs. Both numbers come in above the national average.

Valdes said she would like to see Baltimore narrow the pay gap, but she’s still proud of how far the city has come.

The numbers used in the study came from 2015, the latest data available.

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