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Will cloud computing kick the IT door in for women?

Sandra Gittlen | Aug. 30, 2012
Poke your head into most data centers today and you’re bound to notice a distinct gender gap. While women still represent only a fraction of IT workers today, some experts believe that cloud computing will offer the wedge in the door that women need to equalize staffing numbers.

Women, in her opinion, are excellent problem solvers who can attack the main problem that a lot of companies are facing with the cloud: How to handle data. Cloud allows us to aggregate and proliferate data, but we have to determine what data is important and how to manage it in a way that makes it an important asset, Savage says.

Thomas Koulopoulos, CEO of Delphi Group and author of Cloud Surfing, thinks women are pulled to the cloud not only because of its reach into business, but its indiscriminant nature. Cloud provides greater flexibility into how we integrate people into the process. For instance, a stay-at-home mother can manage the cloud just as well as an in-house worker, he says. Most businesses just want the greater skill set technology and innovation -- and that levels the playing field.

Cloud is certainly sparking interest among the 55,000 members of HPs largest user community, Connect, according to Executive Director and COO Kristi Elizondo. Cloud is offering women a better way to simultaneously balance family life with work and capitalize on growing technology opportunities, she says.

Cloud environments, which can be less hands-on and require less face-to-face time, often conduct business via the Web, email and phone. Elizondo notes these conditions are more conducive to most womens lives and talents. Im from the generation that thought if you cant feel the warmth of the disk drive spinning, its not working. But we all have to change to survive in this industry, Elizondo warns.

Koulopoulos concurs: If traditional IT workers dont demonstrate ingenuity in the changing cloud environment, theyll be out. Just as important, workers must have the technical aspect down pat. If youre purely creative, youll pay a steep price the cloud demands both extremes, he says. To convince corporate leaders to head into the cloud, you have to be a great communicator able to translate business needs, market requirements and technology, he says.

Elizondo and her team created a special interest group within Connect to not only support peer-to-peer networking, but to mentor men and women how to blend the hard and soft skills of technology and business leadership to achieve success. We also do community work with young female professionals to develop their overall skill sets and encourage them to participate more in the IT profession, she says.

Technology professionals already working in and around the cloud can check out Cloud Network of Women (CloudNOW), a global nonprofit consortium for networking, knowledge sharing, mentoring, and economic growth.

In a recent blog post, CloudNOW leader Lori MacVittie wrote how the group hopes to stem the tide of women leaving technology mid-career.


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