When I was in the first grade, I decided I was going to be a nurse. Blame it on the daughter of one of my dad’s colleagues and that pretty cap or maybe it was all about those "Cherry Ames-Student Nurse" books I read.
Fortunately, the healthcare world was forever saved from employing a caregiver who couldn’t get a decent grade in chemistry. And things have changed for many other women who are thinking of going for the brass ring and bucking tradition.
LinkedIn says 29 percent of women in technology hold executive positions in their companies compared with 6 percent of women with other talents. However, women hold a disproportionately low share of engineering undergraduate degrees.
But this can change. I had the privilege of interviewing Comcast’s Susan Adams, this year’s "Women in Technology" winner (an award given by CT, SCTE and WICT) for our cover story ( see page 8), and she truly is the embodiment of the now and future “designing woman.”
Audrey MacLean, a leading IT developer and investor who continues to foster early-stage companies and to mentor entrepreneurs while also teaching at Stanford, notes in a recent Wall Street Journal interview: “In my class, I require the students to form teams to do a four-person project. I don’t assign the teams. I’ve noticed the guys seek the women out as teammates. I think the women are particularly good at bringing the team together and at presenting, which are extremely important skills when developing a product."
She adds, "Female engineers are also sought after. Women make up half the population, and companies want user interfaces that appeal to all buyers. In addition to generally being more collaborative, women have an intuitive sense of usability that leads to better products.”
MacLean also cautions that women need to be prepared academically for tech jobs in order to get hired. “Women need to take advantage of technology courses at the university level,” she advises. “If women don’t get the required technical skills, they won’t be positioned to move into core, general management roles with technology companies.”
Judging from the number of wonderful applications we received for this year’s award, there are some savvy, talented ladies out there, and they all are working to make sure other young women consider the tech field as a career. Take a minute to note those team-builders in your operation, and give them the recognition and tools they need and deserve.