A Different Way

WITNY Reborn As Break Through Tech

WITNY became Break Through Tech in January as Cornel Tech’s pioneering effort to bring more women into technology grew national.

Reporting by David Stone

WITNY, Women in Technology New York, dug in four years ago. The partnership between Cornell Tech and CUNY tackled a thorny problem. Demand for jobs was high, but women avoided tech careers.

The goal: recruit more women and improve workplace conditions.

Last month, January 28th, 2020, Cornell Tech said that WITNY’s success led to a name change as the drive took a national turn.

Cornell Tech, Home of WITNY and now Break Through Tech
Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus, home for WITNY, now hosts Break Through Tech.

Significantly, the move includes joining Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities, a new initiative. Powered by a $50 million investment from Pivotal Ventures, the Cognizant U. S. Foundation and Verizon.

Pivotal is a Melinda Gates company.

“Break Through Tech and Pivotal Ventures share a common goal to accelerate women’s power and influence in the U.S., especially in tech,” said Renee Wittemyer, Senior Lead of Tech Innovation at Pivotal Ventures.

Break Through Tech In/WITNY Out

Cornell Tech said that Break Through Tech will grow into three new cities, starting with Chicago. As they did in New York, WITNY’s successor will partner with local universities, repeating the model.

“Year after year, WiTNY, now Break Through Tech, has made progress getting women at CUNY, the largest and most diverse urban, public college system in the country, to pursue degrees and careers in tech,” said Judith Spitz, Executive Director of Cornell Tech’s Break Through Tech Initiative.

“We can scale the model nationally,” she added.

Greg Morrisett, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech, sized up: “The Break Through Tech initiative is an incredible model that has already made a huge impact in New York and will do so around the country.”

Since opening its Roosevelt Island campus, Cornell Tech leads New York City along the leading edge of tech. Gender equality stands as possibly one of the most impactful efforts of all.

2 replies »

  1. I’m so glad to see this. When I got a second B.A., in 1983, this time as a a career change to computer science and went job hunting, a recruiter asked if I could type and offered me a job in word processing, not in I.T. (information technology)! Then when the women’s movement started, comanies addressed me as “Ms.” Schwartz rather than “Mrs.” Schwartz because they still had a hard time acknowledging that a woman could do feminine things like being married and climb the corporate ladder, especially in any technical area!

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