A few weeks ago, I was talking with Bonnie D. Graham, the host at SAP Radio, and she told me the topic of women in business came up during a show with an all-male panel. They couldn’t really explore answers to all the questions because the men had to make guesses. In order to really dive deeply into the topic, Bonnie has assembled a group of women for this week’s show: “Women in IT: Gender diversity at work.”
I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity participate on this panel with the following incredibly accomplished women:
- Tracey Arnish, Global Vice President, Talent Experience with SAP
- Marilyn Kibler-Colón, Directory of Technology for Sirius Solutions
- Sherryanne Meyer, Manager, IT HR Solutions and Delivery for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
So why do we need to talk about women in IT?
First, many specialties are seeing talent shortages overall. A previous Accenture report notes that the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates in the US would need to increase by 20 to 30 percent between 2006 and 2016 to meet the country’s projected growth in science and engineering employment alone. Second, for a specialist to transition into a business unit leader (and more of a generalist), they have to shift their skills sets away from attention to tight details, towards strategic thinking.
Women may have the stereotype of having more of the soft leadership skills required at the top of the business, but in technology, there can be gaps between the technical skills and the leadership expectations. Women as coders may not actually want to manage people. Women as leaders may not have been programmers, but they understand the technical side of the business.
This distinction is going to impact how we build the future pipeline. Yes, you have to recruit more women into technical disciplines. You also have to build areas of study that bridge business with these technical specialties. Ensure everyone is speaking the same language, build collaboration, and start thinking about cross-functional businesses before people ever get their first job.
I know I’m looking forward to seeing what these women have to say on the show. You can listen in tomorrow, August 30, at 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific and follow the conversation online with #SAPRadio. You can also catch the replay later after the show.
You can also check out The National Center for Women and Information Technology online for more resources.
 Accenture. No Shortage of Talent.