What does insurance technology have to do with birth control?

By Emily Hutto


Consider that list of the best insurance technology schools, ladies. And while you’re at it, think seriously about birth control, too.

Insurance & Technology Magazine recently published this inaugural list of the best schools in the nation for insurance IT talent:
  • Clemson University, Clemson, SC
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.
  • Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.
  • Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, N.J.
  • Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, Tenn.
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.
The magazine’s article quotes Mark Clark, the CIO at Jackson National Life who says, “ ‘When most people contemplate the idea of working for an insurance company, they think of the stereotypical insurance salesman, or a large, bloated, bureaucratic, stodgy, paper-intensive organization. In fact, this industry is very focused on automation and as a result is building an impressive array of technology.’”

Cutting edge insurance-related technology mentioned by Clark includes Java-based systems and artificial intelligence. He and his staff work closely with local universities, like Michigan State University, to recruit talent. The CIO of Prudential Financial Barbara Koster told Insurance & Technology that her company does the same.

More of these recent grads recruited into tech jobs should be women, says a blog on Huffington Post. Contributor Penny Herscher writes, “Technology is an area that needs women more than most. It's the fuel of our new economy, especially software technology. We're creating tech jobs here, the U.S. has an advantage, but we need more STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] college graduates, and that means we need more women going into and staying in technology.”

I couldn’t agree more. A 2006 book called A Field Guide to the U.S. Economy presents research suggesting that most women are employed in what they call “Pink Collar Jobs.” Women dominate these occupations — more than 80 percent of personal care aides, secretaries, elementary school teachers and nurses are female. I can image that these percentages have dropped slightly in the past six years, but probably not by much.

I’d love to see more women get involved in the insurance technology industry, or the insurance industry in general. One big factor keeping them out of technology though, says Herscher, is birth control. She points out that Romney has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and retorts, “Ask any under-insured grad student who spends her nights on her computer how her career prospects would look if she couldn't afford to control whether and when she gets pregnant. How many female CEOs would have shattered the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley if managing their reproductive health had been out of their hands when they were working their way up the ladder?”

Good points, Herscher. Could be why a lot of women choose jobs with more flexible schedules and shorter hours to accommodate child care.

I’ll leave you with Herscher’s last important point: “Women working in technology are on the cutting edge, creating jobs and changing our world in dramatic, powerful ways. But we can't do that if politicians in Washington restrict our ability to plan our families and our futures.”

So, consider that list of the best insurance technology schools, ladies. And while you’re at it, think seriously about birth control, too.