The WIT Network

Blog: Upskilling 1,000 Women

The WIT Network is upskilling 1,000 women by offering Cloud and AI technical training scholarships – are you in?

Traditional economic recovery investments are male-centered and it‘s women that have been hit hardest during the pandemic. Therefore, we are on a mission to help women succeed as we build back better, especially those belonging to marginalized communities. This fall we are offering 1,000 scholarships within our Tech Track Program, developed in partnership with Directions Training and sponsored by Microsoft. Training women with in-demand technology skills makes them more hireable and will directly impact our representation in the industry.

Our membership already understands that diversity and inclusivity in the technology industry is critical, as it enables organizations to create better and safer solutions. Homogenous teams tend to create solutions that best serve that team. To build solutions that best serve society, companies need input from all types of people.

Why upskilling is so critical

Even though women make up almost half of the workforce, they only comprise 27% of STEM workers.[i] Women who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) are further underrepresented across the technology industry, especially in high-skill and leadership positions. Data shows that of those holding technology jobs only:

  • 3% are Black women
  • 1% are Latina women
  • .03% are Indigenous women[ii]

Even fewer BIPOC are in leadership positions. 

Our nation is facing a STEM pipeline crisis in a world where both our workforce needs, and the growth of our international competition are growing at an ever-accelerating pace. Students who live at the intersection of race, gender, ethnicity, and class are disproportionately absent from the STEM enterprise.[iii]

Catalyst research shows that, due to automation and changing industrial trends, an estimated 40–160 million women may need to transition into higher skilled roles by 2030.[iv] Upskilling is imperative for getting more women and BIPOC into an industry that desperately needs them. 

There is increased demand for emerging technology skills, especially those relating to the cloud, AI, and robotics; however, just 22% of AI professionals and 12% of machine-learning experts are women. Research shows that women have leadership strengths that are vital to the technology industry –  robust collaboration and multitasking skills, the ability to listen deeply, and high emotional intelligence, to name a few.[i] What‘s more, women bring with them a different perspective which has been shown to contribute to greater innovation and higher revenue.[ii]

At least 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling by 2022.[iii] The WIT Network and Microsoft want to ensure that women have the opportunity to be part of that upskilling to progress their careers. There is an industry gap for affordable, accessible, women-only training which we are directly addressing.

Filling a training gap

We are giving 1,000 women access to cloud technology skills by removing hefty tuition fees, providing women-only training, and adding flexibility of time, thanks to our partnerships with Directions Training and sponsorship from Microsoft. We want to be purposeful in awarding scholarships and are aiming for at least 50% to go to women in marginalized communities.

Through the Tech Track scholarship, applicants can enroll in one of two 9-week training courses – Azure Fundamentals or Azure Artificial Intelligence – beginning in September 2021. These two foundational programs will set participants on course to becoming Microsoft Certified Professionals in Azure Cloud or Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning.

Participants will also receive a free membership to The WIT Network, enabling them to create networking connections, seek out mentoring opportunities, and gain access to other professional development courses and resources.

This extremely successful program is for women only, which includes those who are transgender or identify as a woman. [CS1] The highly supportive course roster runs for nine weeks (September through October) and boasts an 80% pass rate,[i] compared to the industry average of 50%.

Azure Fundamentals delivers foundational training in cloud concepts, Azure services, Azure workloads, and security and privacy in Azure, as well as Azure pricing and support.

The Azure Artificial Intelligence program introduces fundamental concepts related to artificial intelligence (AI) and the Microsoft Azure services that can be used to create AI solutions.

To learn more or apply for The WIT Network Tech Track, visit:

[i] Statistic based on previous cohort success rate of the Azure Fundamentals course when run by The WIT Network

[i] United States Census Bureau, Women Are Nearly Half of U.S. Workforce but Only 27% of STEM Workers.

[ii] Channel Futures, Being a Woman of Color in Tech — Why Representation Matters.

[iii] Advances in Developing Human Resources. Advancing Women of Color in STEM: An Imperative for U.S. Global Competitiveness.

[iv] Catalyst, Women in the workforce–global: Quick Take (2021).