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How CDK Works with STEM, ChickTech to Promote Women in Industry

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Nov. 17, 2017—As a child, Saloni Shah felt like her future career options were somewhat limited. Years later, Shah now finds herself as an accomplished software engineering manager for CDK Global, one of the world’s largest providers of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions to the auto industry.

“When I was growing up,” she said, “I had no way to find out this [career in technology] was an option.”

If Shah has her way, future generations of young women will avoid any barriers to careers in science and engineering.

Fixed Ops Business recently spoke with Shah in the wake of National STEM-STEAM Day (Nov. 8), which, in part, drew attention to the fact there are few women in the science and engineering workforce—just 29 percent of those workforces are made up of females, according to findings by the National Girls Collaborative Project. Shah’s passion for guiding women on their career path was immediately apparent in her conversation with the magazine, as was her belief in stressing the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs in schools.  

In short, the software engineering manager is sick of seeing young women being discouraged with regard to fulfilling careers like hers.

“It’s kind of a domino effect,” she explained, “Because you see few women and you get de-motivated, and we tend to think, ‘Oh, [this career] is not for us.'”

“That’s why I wanted to give back. I want high school girls to know this is a career option.”

Shah’s employer has helped facilitate her volunteering efforts by partnering with ChickTech, an organization that empowers young women through mentorship programs and technology workshops. The workshops are typically 1-2 days on the weekend, and include tutorials regarding topics such as computer programming, in which young students are given tasks such as building small robots.

“ChickTech gives me a chance to ensure that other 16-year-olds know about technology as a career choice,” Shah recently noted.

“One of the things that STEM professionals can do is offer mentorship,” she suggested. “The other thing is just the idea of being a role model—because it’s very hard to be something you can’t see.”

The relative dearth of women in the science and engineering workforces won’t be solved overnight. Still, Shah remains hopeful for the future.

“One of the things we are seeing is more women are choosing computer science, or engineering, or STEM classes when they move on to college,” she noted. “And, more women are graduating with STEM degrees.

“That’s definitely a sign of progress. Because, only when we get that kind of training can we move into the professional world and conquer it.”

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