Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) and #healthITchicks are two initiatives that focus on developing women in technology. As National Women’s History Month ends, I want to profile two leaders who are committed to developing women in IT through these groups. Leaders who inspire others.
Jennifer Dennard founded the #healthITchicks community several years ago. I asked her why she decided to start it, and she said, “I felt that women working in healthcare technology needed a dedicated social media space where they could network, learn, advise, and ultimately harness the tremendous energy and expertise they have in a way that would be beneficial to us all.”
Lofty as that sounds, she admits it may have been shortsighted. She believes that, the women (and men) who have joined have helped the #healthITchicks community blossom into truly a force for good. So what have they accomplished?
The network has grown to over 550 people, and the hashtag has taken on a life all its own. Her efforts have provided a springboard to the many conversations about women working in health IT and technology at large. Continue reading
It is the beginning of National Women’s History Month. It has been celebrated since 1987 but has its roots in International Women’s Day (March 8th) which started in 1911. The National Women’s History Week was first declared by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
This year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”. Last year’s theme was “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government”.
I doubt there are any greeting cards at the store to celebrate this month. But who needs a corny card. Women just want to be paid equally, afforded the same opportunities as men and recognized for their contributions in all aspects of life.
With the 2017 theme focused on business, you can learn more about the women being recognized this year at the National Women’s History Project.
- Barbara Hackman Franklin, former Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush who served five presidents in various roles and led efforts to increase the number of women in government.
- Alexis Herman, first African American to serve as Secretary of Labor and who led the effort to institute a global child labor standard. She also launched an aggressive initiative to help unemployed youth.
- Lilly Ledbetter, equal pay activist whose long fight is reflected in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by President Obama in 2009.
- Barbara “Dusty” Roads, flight attendants union leader who fought against the airline industry’s sexist working conditions and regulations in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Norma Yaeger, first woman stockbroker to be permitted on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the 1960s.
With my career focus on technology within healthcare, I want to highlight some women in technology and science I’ve learned about recently. Continue reading
Think about the little girls you know. Did they get even more dolls for holiday gifts? Or did they get toys and games that teach creative thinking and how to build things? Or did they maybe even get toys officially labeled in the STEM category?
Social norms start young. I recently played a match game with my two-year-old granddaughter. When we matched the truck picture, she took it over to her 6-month-old baby brother as though it was his domain! This granddaughter and her two-year-old girl cousin have a variety of developmental toys. But when it’s free play, they are often clutching one of their dolls, whether it’s Princess Sofia the First or the newest Disney Princess Elena of Avalor. At least these characters are both confident, strong and compassionate princesses!
My four-year-old granddaughter isn’t as attached to dolls these days. After a break, she is back in dance class, my birthday gift to her. I know she loves it. At Christmas, with her mother’s advice, I gave her 3 months of Koala Crate – a creative, educational activity box for 3-5 year olds. She loved the first box – making stuffed reptiles and learning about them.
You may be saying it’s all about exposing kids to a lot of different things. I agree. But it’s important to not fall into the gender norms when they are young.
Let’s fast forward from my 3 little granddaughters to some of the female leaders in our health IT industry. Continue reading
My first professional event since moving back to New England is the evening of Monday, November 7th. Boston Health 2.0 is a chapter of the national Health 2.0 organization. They hold monthly meetings to promote, showcase and catalyze new technologies in healthcare. The November event is a panel titled “The Power Women of Health IT: Path to Success”.
All powerful women have advice to give others and stories about obstacles they’ve overcome. This group of women panelists is no different and I’m excited to be part of it. Helen Figge, Senior Vice President, Global Strategies and Development, LumiraDx, USA, Inc., Cara Babachicos, Corporate Director/CIO, Community Hospitals, Partners Healthcare, and I were all honored to be named earlier this year to the “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” by Health Data Management. We look forward to sharing our perspectives and stories.
The panel will cover advice on entrepreneurship for women, how women can influence the health IT industry, differing perceptions of competency in men and women, importance of mentorship, how men can be more supportive of professional women, and obstacles we’ve overcome in our own paths to success.
This should be a great discussion with a lot of insight and advice. But which obstacle should I comment on? Looking back to my early days in management, unfortunately there are many stories to share.
There was the male colleague who had it out for me during a five-year period when I was the only woman on the IT leadership team (it was the 80’s). One of the things he did early on was to spread a rumor that I was only in management because I was related to a board member with the same last name. It was so not true; I didn’t even know the board member. Continue reading
How can I not comment on the most watched Presidential debate ever? There were 84 million people watching the debate. It was up against Monday night football and in my temporary town, the Cleveland Indians were clinching the American Central championship.
For women who have dealt with blatant and subtle sexism throughout their lives and careers, it was the ultimate show.
As my twitter feed and Facebook filled with commentary Monday night and all day Tuesday, the gender politics came into focus.
“Sexism is a man screaming he has a better temperament than a woman who has been patiently waiting to speak after being interrupted 10 times.” A tweet from @nickpraynerr shared by Hostile Politics
“Finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in.” A tweet from Alexandra petri @petridishes shared by Being Liberal
“And now, a completely unprepared man will interrupt a highly prepared woman, 51 times, only to prove he actually has very little to say!” Ezra Klein sharing a video clip from Vox to prove it. Continue reading
History was made this week. For the first time, a woman was nominated by a major party for President of the United States. Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote and 240 years after the founding of our country, Hillary Clinton has broken this barrier. Did you hear the glass breaking? I did and it was music to my ears.
Across this country, women have proven they can do anything a man can do in any field. Yet women lag behind in pay, in executive roles and are poorly represented in fields like technology. In a longitudinal salary assessment, HIMSS found that women’s share of health IT salaries for comparable jobs is smaller than it was ten years ago. That means we are losing ground!
I’ve written and spoken about this and will continue to do so. As I was quoted in a recent article, Removing the Glass Ceiling in Health IT, we need to be open about this problem. Naming a problem is the beginning of addressing it. I could sit back quietly but I won’t. I owe it to the next generation of women, my daughters and my granddaughters to speak up. I was influenced by the women’s movement of the 1970’s, so I know that if we don’t speak up, we will never make the changes we need.
At last year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was greeted by a 10-year-old boy with, “I thought only men were managers”. Continue reading
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 home 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
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.
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.
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
How often have you heard that leaders have to “walk the talk”? But how often has a leader you admire disappointed you with either their comments or behavior? We ask ourselves “what were they thinking”?
Being a positive role model and leading by example is something I take very seriously – in both my professional and personal life.
I am deeply touched by the congratulatory notes and kind words I’ve received this week after it was announced that CHIME and HIMSS selected me to receive the John E. Gall, Jr. CIO of the Year Award.
Awards like this don’t happen for CIOs without great teams. I’m extremely grateful for all the talented and dedicated IT teams I’ve worked with over the years. Special thanks to my MCIT team at Michigan for the excellent work they do every day!
This award is named in honor of John E. Gall, Jr. who Continue reading