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

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