I’m in New York this week for the NCWIT’s annual summit. Established in 2004, the National Center for Women & Information Technology is a coalition of over 250 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits working to increase the participation of girls and women in computing and IT. I’m proud to report that SendGrid is now a partner in this coalition as a sponsor of NCWIT’s Entrepreneurial Alliance, and I’m delighted for the opportunity to represent our company at the 2011 summit.

You have likely been involved in discussions around the general topic of women in IT in recent memory, but you might still be asking yourself,  “Why does this effort matter so much, and why now?  How and why has SendGrid partnered with NCWIT?

When the topic comes up––at conferences and other industry gatherings––most of us in IT readily acknowledge that there is a disproportionate number of men to women in our industry. But, how many of us realize that the numbers are actually getting worse? NCWIT’s website points out that in 2009 women earned only 18 percent of all CS degrees, while way back in 1985, women earned 37 percent! More important than the simple recognition of a gender gap in IT is the consideration that this gap translates more significantly into missed opportunities for innovation. As NCWIT’s website notes: “A study on U.S. technology patenting reveals that patents created by mixed-gender teams are the most highly cited (an indicator of their innovation and usefulness); yet women were involved in only 9 percent of U.S. tech patents.”

Clearly, there is much work to be done to address this challenge. And luckily, NCWIT is one organization that has committed to doing that work. As an example, check out the recent announcement of their partnership with the White House’s Startup America Initiative. I am excited to learn a lot at the summit over the next few days and begin forming more ideas on how SendGrid can support and contribute to NCWIT’s efforts to help our industry evolve and grow along with the companies within it.

If you’re in NYC for the Summit or any of the other events, like TechCrunch Disrupt (we’re there too!), give me a shout on the twitters!

Also, please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts or stories on how you and/or your company are helping the cause!