In my role at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and
Technology(ABI), I have the chance to interact with senior technology leaders. Because there are so few women in the
technology area, I can’t emphasize how important senior role models are for
those that are in a mid career technical position.
For example, Kathy Hill is Senior Vice President at Cisco
Systems, and is one of the most senior women at the company. She also serves on ABI’s Board of Trustees. We work with many technical women at
Cisco, and I can’t tell you how often we hear from women how much they admire
Kathy. Many of the people I have spoken
to don’t know her well, but it is important to them and their own career
potential to look up and see a woman in a very senior role at the company.
Why are role models important? Most of us see the world through our own
experience. It is easier to
conceptualize a new world when we see examples that relate to us. For women, yes of course many role models
can be men. Most of my personal role
models were men, because they were the people who had the positions I wanted. But it is important to see other women
Role models come in all shapes and sizes. They aren’t simply the senior women. At our annual event, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing,
often the most valuable role models for the students that attend are the young
faculty and industry professionals that speak, because they are a few years
older than the students, and their decisions seem more accessible and
The annual Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
Women of Vision evening recognizes the achievements of three extraordinary
women, and for all attendees – men and women – the evening is inspirational,
and these women are important role models.
As an example, Duy-Loan Le, a senior Fellow from TI, won a few years
ago. Her video has been watched by thousands of
people, because of her inspirational message of hope and commitment. Through this one night, she has touched the
life of all that hear her video.
Yes role models are important.