Our Story

A Foundation of Success

Research shows an increase in the number of CIOs who recognize an unintentional gender bias exists in IT (Source: Harvey Nash 2013 CIO Survey)

The concept for ARA began quite simply ― it started eight years ago as a quarterly dinner between three IT professionals and friends living in Chicago. The dinner offered a way to discuss general industry trends and advice for women working in IT.

Over the years, more friends and colleagues started joining in these dinners, offering insights, tips and career advice. Pretty soon, these “small dinners with friends” blossomed into major events each quarter – with a current list of 350+ senior women IT executives, the group officially named itself the Chicago Executive Women’s Networking Group. More information can be found here.

Sensing an interest and need for a formal organization to provide opportunities for women in IT to learn and advance their careers, ClearEdge Marketing CEO and Founder Leslie Vickrey, Harvey Nash Managing Director and Vice President Jane Gilligan, and McCann Partners President and Founder Megan McCann, formally founded ARA in early 2013.

The focus is simple:

  • ARA aspires to Attract women to the field of information technology.
  • ARA aspires to Retain relationships with women in the information technology industry.
  • ARA aspires to Advance the role of women in the information technology community.

ARA works with its mentors and mentees in two ways. First, through quarterly events that range from panel and roundtable discussions to speed mentoring sessions. Second, via in-person mentoring sessions after a mentee and mentor have been matched.

Expanding Our Reach

With tremendous response and participation in ARA’s inaugural events, we soon realized that a need and desire for programs focusing on women in IT went well beyond Chicagoland. We now have programs in Houston, New York, Seattle and Silicon Valley. If you’re interested in starting a program in your city, just let us know.

If you can’t make it to our quarterly events, or are looking for even more opportunities to connect with other women in IT, the ARA LinkedIn groups offer a chance to ask questions, offer insights and get more involved. Please visit ARA Chicago, ARA New York, ARA SeattleARA Houston or ARA Silicon Valley‘s LinkedIn pages for more details.

Take the Next Step.

Become a mentor>    Become a mentee>    Register for an event>    Become a sponsor>