Deciding on the best technology program entails more than finding a budget-friendly college or university with general cybersecurity and software development courses — especially for women. 

Although the gender gap in technology is closing, women's employment in the industry still lags behind men's.

However, finding a technology program with a high-quality education from a reputable institution that caters to the needs of women beginning their careers in the current tech landscape is possible. More importantly, quality tech programs are necessary for women to continue on an upward trajectory of disrupting the male-dominated tech sector.

Here's what to prioritize in your future technology program:

1. Relevant Curriculum

Technology degrees take on many forms. While some degrees target more general tech concepts, others offer concentrations that pinpoint specific areas of technology, such as data analytics or software engineering. 

Compare the curricula of different programs of interest to gauge which one might set you on the best path toward your career goals. For instance, an engineering technology degree might be best for electronic technicians or project engineers, but a network management degree is the better option for database administrators and computer network support specialists. 

If you're unsure of the exact path you'd like to take yet, look for a general technology program that offers a well-rounded mix of cybersecurity, software development, information technology, and engineering courses. 

2. Accreditation

Accreditation denotes a school's commitment to high-quality learning through its program curricula, credentialed faculty, and diverse student opportunities. 

Some programs can also have industry-specific accreditation, meaning that they're widely recognized within an industry. Industry-specific accrediting bodies ensure that each accredited program meets industry standards for the careers for which it prepares learners. For technology programs, ABET and ATMAE accreditation are among the most reputable. 

3. Focus on Diversity

A college or university's culture should be welcoming to women in order for it to provide programs that meet the needs of women. Schools with a clear focus on diversity tend to ensure that all groups are welcome and strive to create a diverse, inclusive student body.

Schools that focus on diversity often breathe their mission into each program, allowing students to access valuable career and learning resources without limitations that they can carry with them throughout their careers. Some technology programs may even assist graduates with networking and job hunting with inclusive organizations.

4. Career and Networking Resources

Does a technology program leave you to fly on your own after you graduate, or does it provide you with helpful career and networking resources to develop your professional self before and after you finish? The latter describes a program designed to help women succeed in the technology industry.

Look for a program that teaches you how to write a resume, offers mentorships with industry leaders, and schedules networking events for tech-focused women to grow their networks and collaborate. In addition, some programs have career advisors for each student to work with every step of the way.

5. Flexibility

Today's career landscape typically requires demanding, fluctuating schedules and several weekly hours of work. Add in personal responsibilities — whether rearing children, caring for an elderly parent, or giving yourself a much-needed break — and, soon, juggling everything becomes overwhelming.

Having a degree or certificate program that can accommodate your work schedule is a must. Fortunately, many schools recognize this need and have created more flexible programs, such as offering online, hybrid, or evening classes or allowing students up to eight years to complete their program part-time. 

6. Hands-On Opportunities

Through workshops and internships, women gain hands-on experience in their field to propel them ahead when they're ready to jump in entirely. 

Look for programs with plenty of opportunities to dive into the technology industry, such as mentorships with industry leaders or capstone projects that require you to work with leading industry tools. In addition, some schools offer training opportunities on SQL, Java, Linux, and other technologies that you can complete while earning your degree.

7. Educational Advancement Opportunities

How far can your degree take you? While a bachelor's degree in technology paves the way for multiple career options, you might not want your journey to end there. Leadership and advanced positions may require a graduate degree.

Consider whether your degree options make the transition from undergraduate to graduate simple. For example, do a program's credits transfer seamlessly to another program? Does it provide a solid foundational curriculum to prepare you for graduate studies?

Finding the Best Women-Focused Technology Programs

The best technology programs for women are widely recognized as inclusive, accredited, and relevant in today's technology landscape. Strive to find programs that lay flexible pathways toward learning with enriching hands-on experiences and educational advancement opportunities.

As you narrow your options, consider becoming a Women in Tech Network member. You'll gain access to mentorships, trainings, community events, job searches, and so much more to assist you in developing your tech career.