Find your voice, a mentor, and be bold

The week started with #Oprah2020 trending on Twitter. If you missed Oprah’s inspirational speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday night you can find it on YouTube. Who doesn’t love Oprah? But, should we canstockphoto13471338 (002) mentorelect another president who lacks government experience?

But these aren’t the questions I want to address. A Slate article by Dahlia Lithwick got my attention on Monday. She said the real message of Oprah’s speech wasn’t about her but about us. Do we feel empowered enough to act. She focused on women running for office at all levels. And that led me to think more about empowerment.

While that buzz was happening on Monday, I was in a daylong meeting with a small group of women leaders from various industries. We had been brought together by the first female president of a large, national organization to discuss the challenges women in leadership face. It was an insightful discussion as stories were shared, dissected, and analyzed.

As I bring this back to health IT, I’m not going to rehash the stories and lessons from my experience as a female IT leader over the years. I’ve shared some of them in previous posts. Rather, I want to again encourage you to take steps to own your career and find ways to develop yourself. Find your voice and speak up. Find the mentors you need to help you. And be bold.

HIMSS18 is less than 2 months away. To get the most out of the annual conference you need to make choices and plan your time there carefully. There are many ways to invest in “you” while there, including education and networking.

I’ve had the opportunity to present at many previous HIMSS conferences on a range of topics. This year, I was asked to support the Career Fair and the Women in HIT sessions. I’m committed to developing the next generation of leaders, so I gladly said yes! Continue reading

The silence breakers, long overdue

It’s been boiling for years, decades. It’s been in the headlines for months. This week Time Magazine recognized the enormity of this sea change and named the women they call “the silence breakers” as canstock120817 girl powerPerson of the Year. Women who have come forward and named the men who have sexually harassed and abused them. And Time did not forget those still too afraid to speak out.

I started a blog post a few weeks ago that I was going to call “I believe the women”.  But I was unsure how to approach the topic, and I set it aside and covered other subjects. I had commented on the topic when the Harvey Weinstein story was breaking in October in my post, “Time to support, not harass women”. This week, I  have decided to write about three unique programs that are committed to developing girls and women.

The sea change or watershed moment, as news commentators call it these days, is long overdue. And it is not over. It has just begun. There will be more women speaking out, more denials, and ultimately more men facing up to what they have done. More industries and sectors  will be affected, although Hollywood and politicians will be the most talked about stories.

Let’s advance this sea change by talking about ways to develop strong girls and women. Let’s provide them with every opportunity they deserve in a society that treats them equally and with respect.  Sticking with that theme, here are those three programs I mentioned:

Girls, Inc. is a national program which inspires all girls to be “strong, smart, and bold”. I recently learned about it at the CHIME Fall Forum in San Antonio. The Women of CHIME group hosted a session titled “Breaking Down Barriers and Paving the Way”. The program featured Lea Rosenauer, President and CEO of Girls Inc. of San Antonio. She discussed issues that prevent women from career advancement and suggested  strategies to get women into leadership roles. Continue reading

Time to support, not harass women

With the latest sexual harassment and abuse stories in the news, I am reminded once again how important it is for women to speak up. We need to encourage women and girls to pursue their dreams, canstockphoto13989561and support them when they face obstacles.

Like other women leaders, I try to be a role model for young women in all that I say and do. I try to speak up and take on the tough issues that women face in the work world. I encourage young women to figure out who is on their “team you”. And most importantly, I tell them not to put up with crap, from anyone.

I have written many posts over the past few years on women and work and done several talks focused on encouraging and developing women.

Here are some of those posts that you might find useful and maybe even inspiring these days:

Yes we can: women in health IT

Powerful women and their path to success

Investing in the success of others

Equal pay, who can argue?

#ILookLikeAnEngineer

Balancing career and family

I challenge you to look at your own practices and ensure you are doing all you can to support women in your organization so they are comfortable speaking up, able to overcome obstacles they face, and can actually thrive and advance.

10 tips for next generation leaders

I recently had the opportunity to do a talk as part of a Women in Leadership lecture series. The title of the talk was “Yes We Can – Developing Next Generation Leaders”. I covered leadership lessons from my canstockphoto23302155many years of experience, the challenges for women in STEM, and general career advice. The group had a lot of great questions and comments from their experience, so it was a lively and interactive session.

Regardless of gender, if you are a leader or future leader, these tips may be useful to you.

Find a mentor –  You can’t do it yourself. Find someone you consider a role model and who is willing to invest some time and energy in helping you develop.

Let go and be willing to delegate – If you try to do it all yourself, you won’t develop others nor have time to do the work that allows you to grow.

Give up on perfectionism – It is the enemy of good. It wastes time and keeps you from doing other work.

Ask for feedback – Take off the blinders and ask for honest feedback from your staff, your boss, your peers, and your customers. What should you start doing, stop doing and continue doing.

Consider everything a learning opportunity – Remember that you can learn from every experience. Whether it is a new skill, knowledge or lesson on how to improve for next time. Continue reading

Learn from history but look to the future

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 Women around CR tabletwo 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

Women’s History Month, not exactly a Hallmark card event!

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 canstockphoto35399887 herstorywas 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.

They include:

  • 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

Yes we can: women in health IT

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 officiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM 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

Powerful women and their path to success

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 canstockphoto993163promote, 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

Manterrupting

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, thecanstockphoto10414040 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

Lift up women and you lift up everyone

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 ofcanstockphoto4392904 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