A few years ago I was at Cisco’s Velocity channel marketing conference in Miami. When I sat down for the keynote I noticed something that I’d never seen before: I was in the minority.
More than 80 per cent of the crowd was female. In more than 15 years of attending IT conferences, this was a first. I started to jot down some notes for a column on how women were progressing in the IT industry until I was reminded by the woman next to me that I was at a marketing conference.
Women have traditionally found success in fields such as marketing or human resources, but the same can’t be said for the IT industry overall.
To give some perspective on how male dominated IT is in Canada, I attended a women in IT event in 2008 that had four panelists, and only one was female. The audience was 50/50 men to women.
The idea for CDN’s first Women in IT channel feature didn’t come to me overnight. I recognized long ago that women contributed greatly to the IT industry. Take, for example, Julia Conn Watt, Norma Tidd, Pat Nielsen, Carol Stephenson, Solange Dugas Bazier, Sue Miller, Jaqueline Famulak, Wendy Hayes and Sheelagh Whittaker. They were true pioneers, in my opinion.
But it was another woman executive that really put it into perspective for me. In 1990 I interviewed Fruji Bull, president of the Canadian Association of Data Professionals Service Organizations. Bull said that Canada had a dearth of IT workers to the tune of 8,000. Without these workers, Canadian competitiveness in the IT industry would be impacted greatly. Bull added if only young women entered IT, that dearth would be a surplus.
However, IT wasn’t as cool back then as it is nowadays.
Today, you have the net generation with inspirational people such as Jennifer Corriero, the founder of TakingITGlobal.org, a not-for-profit organization inspiring young women and men to use technology to improve the world.
When you look at Corriero’s accomplishments at such as young age, you can’t help but wonder what greater gender diversity will do for this great industry.
CDN profiled 20 senior level executives for this feature and what resonated was that these great women have never had an us versus them mentality. Their focus was on the job at hand and working hard for customers and their employers. They’re all aware of their situation, but they didn’t believe it was an impediment to success.