Equal pay, who can argue?

My mother had to go to work to support four children after my father died from cancer. I was active in the women’s movement in my college years. So, I can’t imagine women not having a career outside the homecanstockphoto6033421 if they so choose or if they have to support themselves and their families.

Although I was very interested in math growing up, I got into IT somewhat by accident; I had wanted to be a math teacher. But in the late 70’s the field of computer science was exploding and there was an easy entry path. I went to a technical school and got a certificate in programming.  I learned to code in 7 different languages. I doubt that any of them are still remotely useful.  I didn’t work as a programmer for long but stayed on the IT path. I worked as an analyst for a while and then moved into management in 1984.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (TODASTW) is coming up soon – April 28th. Last year, we had a very successful event at University of Michigan Health System and I’m hoping they are doing it again even bigger and better this year.  I’ve learned that we don’t do any TODASTW programs at UH. With everything else on my plate, I wasn’t going to try to start it in our IT department.

Technology is a significant part of our future – as workers and consumers. Technology jobs are some of the highest paying jobs. Continue reading

Do you know your big rocks?

April is a mixed month for me. No, I’m not talking about the fact that we had snow this week. In April, I celebrate many happy milestones, including my birthday and my wedding anniversary. Andcanstockphoto25793802 now, both my daughters have April wedding anniversaries. And the blooming daffodils along the road remind me that spring is finally here. 

Yet, there is always a sad part of April for me. My father died from Hodgkin’s disease on April 23rd, just a few days before my fourth birthday. Losing a parent as a child leaves a hole in your heart and shapes who you are.

Stephen Covey has a great story about “big rocks”. If you’re not familiar with it, just google it. Our families are our big rocks and my daughters remind me of that. And as little as they are, my grandchildren are also big rocks for me.  Every time one of my daughters calls me on FaceTime and I see a cute little toddler smiling at me from my iPhone, I fall in love with them all over again. Continue reading

Shattering the glass ceiling

No more hitting it, or even breaking it – let’s shatter it!

I’ve been vocal in urging more women to pursue technology careers and in supporting women as they face challenges moving up the ladder.canstockphoto28787142

HIMSS16 attendees can focus on many topics this year. I will be pursuing my passion for developing the next generation of leaders, especially helping women deal with barriers they face as we try to level the playing field.

I’m happy to be a voice for women – but I’m not alone.

  • On Tuesday at 10AM at the HIMSS Spot, the annual #healthITchicks meetup is happening. I’ll be one of the guest speakers along with Rebecca Freeman, Chief Nursing Officer at ONC and Dana Sellers, CEO at Encore. Jennifer Dennard, #healthITchicks founder, organizes monthly TweetChats on a range of topics as well as this annual meetup at HIMSS.  Join us for some interesting Q&A and networking!
  • On Wednesday at 2PM, I will be one of two female executives speaking at the Views from the Top Session – “Shattering the Glass Ceiling – Lessons Learned for Aspiring Female Executives”. I’ll be joined by Deanna Wise, Chief Information Officer at Dignity Health. Carla Smith, EVP at HIMSS will be the moderator. A similar session last year was a big hit with a large crowd so let’s make this year even bigger and better! Kate Gamble with HealthSystemCIO.com wrote an excellent preview of the session this week.
  • And in a two hour closed session on Monday morning, I will be one of six executive women that Carla has pulled together for a Women in HIT roundtable session. More than 900 women responded to a recent HIMSS / Healthcare IT News survey on the women’s professional needs in the health IT field.  According to Carla, those responding overwhelmingly wanted more recognition of female leaders, and more gender-focused resources that support networking, mentoring, and educational and career opportunities. She hopes that the roundtable will give HIMSS valuable input towards developing a year-round, comprehensive, and meaningful program to empower women, and to nurture the next generation of women leaders.

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Tis the season to give back

I am committed to developing the next generation of leaders. I also give generously to non-profits that I care about. This week, those two passions converged.

I hosted a “lunch and learn” with five women from Cisco. Jay Roberts, director operations sales, has been a strong supporter of Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT), like many leaders in technology companies. At the annual MCWT gala fundraiser in October, I donated a “lunch and learn” session. I offered to meet with four women over lunch to have an open discussion on women’s leadership issues. Jay bid it up until he had no more competition. He then went back to Cisco and recommended a group of women to participate.

The women who lunched with me all currently work in the sales division for this technology company. They have different backgrounds in terms of college experience, technology education, and family history. They shared their stories and challenges with me. I asked each of them what they wanted to get out of our two hours together. After all, they all had plenty of work to do back at the office.

They wanted to talk about: work life balance and making time for self; how to lead with assertiveness and compassion yet not mother staff; common mistakes women leaders make; and where best to focus their volunteer energy.

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STEM for the holidays

GiftboxI keep my distance from the huge crowds shopping on Black Friday. And Cyber Monday comes way too soon for me. I usually wait until mid-December to actually do any gift shopping. The one gift I decide on early is the “perfect” book for everyone on my leadership team – a tradition I’ve had since my first CIO position. But I know that most people try to get a very early start.

I am committed to encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM fields. I have spoken on women and technology to several different audiences over the past year, including keynoting at the Michigan Council of Women in Technology annual Executive Connection Summit in May. One part of my talk includes ideas for gifts starting with the very littlest ones through high school to encourage an interest in technology.

If you have any children on your gift list this year, consider some of these ideas that my staff specialist, Chris Greene, and I have found as we gathered information for the talk this past year: Continue reading

#ILookLikeAnEngineer

One of the latest social media campaigns is raising awareness about engineering fields not being just for men. If you haven’t seen it, let me explain. A 22 year old woman, Isis Anchalee, was part of an ad campaign for her San Francisco based company, OneLogin.

Isis Anchalee started #ILookLikeAnEngineer in response to social media commenters that claimed she did not look the part.

Some people did not believe she was an engineer when they saw the ads. And so the negative and sexist comments began. Ms. Anchalee chose the high road and started a social media campaign with hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. Within hours, tens of thousands of women in engineering jobs had posted their own picture with the hashtag.

With the very divisive language currently dominating the presidential campaign including negative comments aimed at women, what should we as leaders be doing? As always, we should be promoting diversity, common decency, and respectfulness in all our language, behaviors, and practices.  We should expect nothing less from each other as people. Continue reading

Investing in the success of others

What do @TheWomenRising, @digitaldivas3, and #HITchicks have in common? They are some of the Twitter handles and hashtags that young women professionals in technology are using on social media to encourage Women around CR tablemore women to go into the field. I recently did a fireside chat with Kate Catlin, the organizer of Women Rising, and about 30 young women in downtown Detroit. It was the first in a new UpRising series where they invite in “high-powered women in technology” they want to learn from.

The questions covered a broad range of concerns, and not just about working in technology. We were scheduled for an hour but could easily have continued for several more. I answered their questions with advice and lessons from my own experience.

Some of their questions:

How did you get started in technology?  Continue reading

Meet your future workforce

Future IT worker helps with the a/v during the morning presentation.

Yesterday the IT Department hosted 25 children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This annual event is a great way to encourage both girls and boys to consider careers in health care and information technology.

I kicked things off at breakfast and talked with all the participating young people (ages 6-13) and their parents. I met many of the parents and children individually as they signed in and ate breakfast.  One parent said to her child that I was her boss’s, boss’s, boss.  I said they should think of me like the principal at their school – in charge of everyone in our IT department. I thought it would relate to them better than saying CIO. Continue reading

Yes you can: encouraging girls to pursue IT careers

Last week I spoke with high school and college age women about the Journey to a Successful Career in Information Technology. I gave the keynote at an event jointly sponsored by the Student Resource and Women’s Center and Career Services at Washtenaw Community College. The event was part of their women in non-traditional careers series. It was fun to do – having a chance to encourage and inspire the next generation of information technology professionals.  And it was great to see some familiar faces in the audience – a number of women from our IT team decided to attend as well.

I started my talk by profiling real women in real IT jobs today – 8 women from our IT team.  Their positions include service desk, business analyst, programmer, database administrator, data architect, project manager, training manager, and infrastructure manager. I described what they do in a typical day and the skills they need in each position. One comment overheard after the talk: “This is exactly what these girls need – to see that women can and do work in IT.  Then they can picture themselves doing it, too.” Continue reading

Women and technology, part 2

I had the chance to deliver the opening keynote talk at the NG HealthCare US Summit two weeks ago. I was to fit a 20 minute talk between the salad and the entree at a dinner. The summit organizers said I could talk about whatever topic I wanted; I just had to be inspiring.

I titled my talk: “Our Future Workforce – Unlocking the Potential”. As I posed the problem in a recent post “Technology, where are all the women?,” I talked about the fact that not enough women are going into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. I have been particularly concerned with the drop in women entering computer related fields.

Why does this problem exist, what are some of the programs that are helping address it, and what can IT leaders do about it?

The IT leadership conference where I was speaking was about 75-80% men, so I thought there might be a risk with this angle on the future workforce. I am happy to say the talk was very well received.

Afterwards, men talked to me about their daughters – whether they are in college studying in a STEM field or in grade school interested in computers and robots. Women told me about their own Continue reading