For one woman entering municipal IT, apprehension — and fulfillment - Technical.ly Philly

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Aug. 31, 2017 11:06 am

For one woman entering municipal IT, apprehension — and fulfillment

Beth Jurman, who leads IT efforts at the Revenue Department, is the only female director in the city's Office of Innovation and Technology.

William Penn stands atop Philadelphia City Hall.

(Photo by Flickr user Bossi, used under a Creative Commons license)

This is a guest post by Beth Jurman, the IT director for the Philadelphia Department of Revenue.
Apprehension. That was my initial feeling when I joined the City of Philadelphia this past February as the Department of Revenue’s first female IT director.

It is a common feeling for women in IT. Having served in IT roles in the private sector, I knew that women in IT often must work harder to achieve more, just to reach the same level as men. This is particularly true in my industry more so than others. Recently, a Google engineer famously released a memo alleging that women aren’t suited for tech positions because of biological differences. With attitudes like these existing at a global tech company, it’s natural that any woman working in tech would feel apprehensive in such a male-dominated field.

Despite my apprehension, I felt excited.

This was a big job with a high level of responsibility. I would be the senior IT staffer for the revenue-collection department in the city. And, unlike my previous private-sector gigs, I was going to be entering the world of public service. I was empowered by this opportunity to serve over 1.5 million residents. When the offer came, I just couldn’t say no.

Today, I’m glad I said yes. This role has been as challenging and rewarding as I could have hoped. I’m responsible for leading the development, integration and production support for all applications that support the work of the Revenue Department. This role has many facets, including managing the department’s IT resources, ensuring the data security of taxpayers, incorporating newer technologies into the department’s work as well as integrating our data and infrastructure with other city agencies.

Most importantly, I find myself in a welcoming environment. I work with a Commissioner and other senior staff members who support my work and embrace the power of technology to improve how we serve taxpayers. It is especially rewarding to be a part of such a highly integrated and diverse team that, sometimes, makes it easy for me to forget that I’m the only female director in all of the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT).

I also really enjoy working with the longtime city employees, who have worked for the department for many years and have a deep understanding of the department’s operations. It has really been a pleasure to work with so many dedicated and knowledgeable colleagues.

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After about six months on the job, I’m continuously reminded of how grateful I am for this opportunity. I’m thankful to work with a team that empowers me to succeed every single day. In such a supportive work environment, I see a bright future for myself, my team and my city.

Women in tech have come a long way but there’s still progress to be made. I am looking forward to the next generation of women making a difference as IT professionals.

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