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Houston named among the top cities for women in technology

Houston has been deemed the sixth best city for women in technology, according to a SmartAsset report. Christina Morillo/Pexels

Houston fell two places in SmartAsset's latest ranking of the best U.S. cities for women in technology but remains in the top 10.

SmartAsset's sixth annual study, released February 6, puts Houston at No. 6 among the top cities for women in tech. That's down from the No. 4 spot in SmartAsset's 2019 study. However, Houston still holds the No. 1 ranking among Texas cities.

"Only one of five most-populated U.S. cities β€” Houston β€” makes it into our top 15 cities for women working in the tech industry," says SmartAsset, a personal finance website.

In all, SmartAsset analyzed 59 of the largest U.S. cities to find the best places for women in tech to work and live. The website judged each city on four factors:

  • Gender pay gap in the tech industry
  • Average earnings after subtracting median costs for housing
  • Women as a percentage of the tech workforce
  • Four-year growth in tech employment

In Houston, average earnings for women in tech represented 99 percent of men's earnings in 2018, SmartAsset found. That amounts to a difference of $451. Houston also boasts the eighth highest average amount of earnings for women in tech after deducting costs for housing ($64,464), according to SmartAsset.

Furthermore, the study shows women hold down 25.8 percent of tech jobs in Houston, compared with the 59-city average of 26.1 percent.

Houston's showing in the SmartAsset study bolsters the region's amped-up efforts to evolve into a tech hub.

In April 2019, the Wall Street Journal noted those efforts were jump-started after Amazon rejected Houston as a candidate for the e-commerce giant's hotly pursued second headquarters. These initiatives include attracting startups and venture capital, and ramping up programs aimed at accelerating innovation.

"We already knew we were not in the top tier of what has been happening globally as far as innovation," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told the Wall Street Journal. "But Amazon passing us over was a real wake-up call that we could not be walking towards building this new ecosystem. We had to sprint."

Here are the top 10 cities for women in tech, according to SmartAsset:

  1. Baltimore
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Arlington, Virginia
  4. Chesapeake, Virginia
  5. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  6. Houston
  7. Long Beach, California,
  8. Chandler, Arizona
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Durham, North Carolina

In the SmartAsset study, Houston fared much better than its big-city counterparts in Texas. Fort Worth came in at No. 17, with Plano tied for 27th, San Antonio tied for 37th, Irving at No. 39, Austin at No. 49, and Dallas at No. 54 (five spots from the bottom).

To find the best cities for women in tech, SmartAsset looked at data for cities that had at least 200,000 residents in 2018. The website then removed cities that lacked reliable data, leaving a pool of 59 cities.

Findings in the SmartAsset study stand in contrast to a recent ranking by CompTIA, a tech industry trade group, of the 20 best metro areas in the U.S. for IT jobs. Austin ranked first, and Dallas appeared at No. 7. Houston didn't make the list.

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Building Houston

 
 

The promotion of drones helps the city of Houston transition to becoming the energy 2.0 capital of the world, says this expert. Photo courtesy

The state of Texas, as well as the rest of the nation, has been intensely impacted by the effects of climate change as well as aging utility infrastructure. Innovative drone technologies help address the pressing inspection and mapping needs of utilities and other critical infrastructure across the country, primarily bridges and roads, railways, pipelines, and powerplants.

There is a significant need for high-precision inspection services in today's market. Additional work will result if the proposed infrastructure bill passes. The bill has $73 billion earmarked toward modernizing the nation's electricity grid. Drone β€”or UAS (unmanned aerial systems)β€” technological advances, including thermal imaging, LiDAR (light detection and ranging), IRR (infrared radiation and remote sensing), and AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning) are applied toward determining and predicting trends and are instrumental toward making our country safer.

"The newest advances in drone technology are not so much in the drones themselves, but rather, in the sensors and cameras, such as thermal cameras. Technologies such as LiDAR are now more cost-effective. The newer sensors permit the drones to operate in tighter spaces and cover more acreage in less time, with higher accuracy and fidelity", according to Will Paden, president of Soaring Eagle Technologies, a Houston-based tech-enabled imaging company servicing utility and energy companies.

Paden anticipates growth in the use of the technology for critical infrastructure including utilities, pipelines, power plants, bridges, buildings, railways, and more, for routine and post-storm inspections

"[Soaring Eagle's] ability to harness UAS technology to efficiently retrieve field data across our 8,000+ square mile area is unprecedented. Coupling this data with post-processing methods such as asset digitization unlocked a plethora of opportunities to visualize system resources and further analyze the surrounding terrain and environment," says Paige Richardson, GIS specialist with Navopache Electric Cooperative. "Our engineering and operations departments now have the ability to view 3D substation models, abstract high-resolution digital evaluation models, and apply these newfound resources as they work on future construction projects."

The promotion of drones helps the city of Houston transition to becoming the energy 2.0 capital of the world. The UAS (unmanned aerial systems) technology offers an environmentally cleaner option for routine and post-storm inspections, replacing the use of fossil fuels consumed by helicopters. The use of drones versus traditional inspection systems is significantly safer, more efficient and accurate than traditional alternatives such as scaffolding or bucket trucks. Mapping and inspection work can be done at much lower costs than with manned aircraft operations. These are highly technical flights, where the focus on safety and experience flying both manned and unmanned aircraft, is paramount.

There is much work ahead in high-tech drone technology services, especially for companies vetted by the FAA with high safety standards. According to one study, the overall drone inspection & monitoring market is projected to grow from USD 9.1 billion in 2021 to USD 33.6 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 15.7 percent from 2021 to 2030. North America is estimated to account for the largest share of the drone inspection & monitoring market from 2021 to 2030.

Paden predicts the use of machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) and data automation will continue to improve over the next 3-5 years, as more data is collected and analyzed and the technology is a applied to "teach it" to detect patterns and anomalies. He anticipates ML/AI will filter out the amount of data the end users will need to view to make decisions saving time and money for the end users.

Learn more at the Energy Drone & Robotics Summit taking place in The Woodlands on October 25 through October 27.

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Alex Danielides is head of business development for Houston-based Iapetus Holdings, a privately held, minority and veteran-owned portfolio of energy and utility services businesses. One of the companies is Soaring Eagle Technologies.

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