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.

Family support systems: priceless

I am regularly reminded how much young working couples with children need family support systems. Even with the new more flexible work arrangements and the ability to work from home occasionally or on canstockphoto43984614a permanent basis, working parents need help from time to time.

We have four young working parents in our family. They balance the demands of their jobs and raising young children. That’s my two daughters and our sons-in-law or as my husband called them on Father’s Day, “active duty dads”. And he of course is an “active duty grandpa” when needed.

My oldest daughter is a nurse practitioner who works three 12 hour shifts a week and a fourth shift one week a month. She has an hour plus drive each way to the hospital. She leaves the house before her 1-year-old and 2-year-old children are awake. She gets home in time for bath and bedtime stories.

On the days she works, my son-in-law gets the children up, dressed, fed and off to the day care center. He is a senior loan officer at a mortgage company with an office in downtown Boston. He takes the train in and out and works from home a few days a week. 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

On being a grandparent

My fourth grandbaby was born this week. I helped out by taking care of his 19 month old big sister while his parents were at the hospital. Being able to be present to give this support to my daughters is one of canstockphoto17685636the reasons I started my next chapter back in January.

Why is it so important for me to spend time with my family as my four grandchildren grow up?  My father died when I was just 4 years old. His death left my mother to raise my 3 older siblings and me alone. Her parents lived 3 hours away.  We only saw them a few times a year – a 3 hour drive for a mom and four kids was a big deal back then. My father’s parents had died before my parents were married. And my own daughters grew up without grandparents. By the time my husband and I were in our 30’s, all of our parents were deceased. None of them lived to age 70.

As a professional woman, I have worked far more than 40 hours a week since my late 20’s and been in management since 1984. When I had babies, a 6-week maternity leave was the norm. Both my daughters went to infant programs in daycare centers when I went back to work. I learned that babies start to smile at their parents (and it’s not just gas) at around 6 weeks old. I realized that I would miss her first smile being back at work.

I treasure the times I have now with my grandkids. My daughters are appreciative of the help I can give but don’t want it to be a burden. I have heard people my age say being a grandparent is great but it’s really nice to be able to hand the kids back to their parents. Yes, kids are demanding and tiring when you are no longer young. 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

Lead by example

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

Technology, where are all the women?

I have been hesitant to talk about women’s issues here, but I’ve been encouraged to do so by many women colleagues. They tell me I have a platform, so use it!  Young women tell me that I, a female CIO, am a role model and that they want to learn from me.18Percent

I’ll be doing an opening dinner keynote talk soon at an invitation only health IT conference. I plan to talk about unlocking the potential of our future workforce. So, what does that mean? Among other steps, we need to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology.

Here are some troubling statistics and trends: Continue reading

Balancing career and family

I just had the joy of taking care of my 20 month old granddaughter for two days. Her day care center was closed this week so my husband and I flew out to LA to have some fun and help out.

It reminded me how hard it can be to balance a career and a young family. Parents take turns getting ready for work while watching small children. Getting kids out of the house with all their necessary supplies can be an organization challenge in itself. One parent does the drop off and the other may handle the pickup. Figuring out who has to be at work by when and who gets done in time is the family dance. If there are long commutes, multiply the challenges and logistics. And then theres the home front again after a long day – Continue reading