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CIO Quick Takes: What you need to know about women in tech

Dan Muse | April 26, 2017
We asked seven CIOs and other IT executives, who happen to be female, what they think everyone should know about women in technology.

Women in IT not only have outstanding technical skills, but also bring the people skills, perspectives and viewpoints that are vital to an organization’s success in increasingly diverse and competitive marketplaces.

 

Renee Zaugg, vice president, infrastructure and development services, Aetna

renee zaugg 
Renee Zaugg, vice president, infrastructure and development services, Aetna. Credit: Aetna

While the IT industry remains male-dominated, there are many things women excel at that other leaders may not be aware of.  One of the most significant qualities, I believe, is a woman’s ability to take on multiple complex tasks simultaneously with a successful outcome. Women can easily move from meeting to meeting or jump from multiple topics quickly while remaining organized.  I think about the conversations I have on a daily basis, new people I meet, topics that are discussed, and I know the important items to pay attention to and can quickly make impactful decisions.  This is important in the technical industry with constantly changing/new technologies introduced every day, and also applies to taking care of things at home.

There is scientific research that shows the differences between men and women’s brains that prove this idea. I have read multiple studies that talk about a woman’s ability to better connect the left and right sides of her brain better, which helps with taking on complex tasks simultaneously (Dr. Ragini Verma, University of Pennsylvania). Women can get more done in a shorter amount of time, and by using these functions of our brain, we are able to use our instincts yet provide logical thinking at the same time.  

Additionally, I have learned that men have stronger connections in parts of their brains that help them focus and resolve an issue quickly under pressure. Overall, having this information helps me as a leader and teaches us that diversity plays an important role in our organizations.  

 

Archana Vemulapalli, CTO, District of Columbia

archana vemulapalli 
Archana Vemulapalli, CTO, District of Columbia. Credit: District of Columbia

Start talking about men in tech instead of women in tech. The problem isn’t with women in tech but how women are perceived and given opportunities by men in tech. Core technical skills are gender-neutral. Women are often promoted only when they perform where as men get promoted based on their potential.

Level the playing field and always be conscious of decisions you make – be it pay, opportunity or just camaraderie. Let the best person get the opportunity and give the woman a fighting chance. 

 

Kristie Grinnell, vice president, Information Technology and CIO, General Dynamics IT

grinnellkristie 
Kristie Grinnell, vice president, Information Technology and CIO, General Dynamics IT. Credit: General Dynamics IT

 

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