Did you know that women held 57% of the professional occupations in the 2008 U.S. workforce? Did you also know that women held 25% of the professional information technology (IT) -related occupations in the 2008 U.S. workforce? I didn’t. Not until recently that is.
The National Center of Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a coalition of over 200 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits, working to increase women’s participation in IT and computing. This year’s annual summit was held in Portland, Oregon and day two was hosted right here at one of Intel’s campuses in Hillsboro. I was able to catch up with NCWIT CEO, Lucy Sanders, and got her to share a little bit more about NCWIT and Intel’s involvement.
As I attended different sessions, listened to speakers and mingled with some of the 400 attendees, I began to see the bigger picture and issue this organization was setting out to address: the computing industry is growing, but interest in computing careers is decreasing, especially for women. There’s a great report by Dr. Catherine Ashcraft and Sarah Blithe called, “Women in IT: The Facts” that goes over what the landscape currently looks like, why it is the way it is, and potential solutions on how to address those barriers. So the big question: how do you increase the involvement of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers?
Let’s make one thing clear before I go any further: this is an issue that is affecting the industry, not just Intel. We recognize that this is a growing issue that not only affects our current female employees, but also impacts women who are even considering entering a tech career. And we are committed to doing something about it.
There are several ways to help:
• spark the interest of young girls and drive them towards STEM careers
• provide programs that would nurture that interest through higher education
• support and develop women once they join the technical workforce.
Though Intel is involved in combating the issue in all of these ways, I’d like to focus on what we are doing to develop and retain our female employees.
In 2005, Intel’s Global Diversity, Education & External Relations group introduced a Global Women’s Initiative to focus on programs to develop and retain our female employees. Our Women’s Initiative strategy includes several programs and tools, such as our Women Principal Engineers and Fellows Forum and our Global Women’s Initiative Portal. The forum is designed for female Principal Engineers and Fellows as a way to work on their technical skills along with peer coaching and opportunities to present their work in front of a highly technical audience. Our Portal was created as part of our internal social networking platform, Planet Blue, as a tool to better connect women across the organization. The Portal gives women across the world a place to interact with leaders, engage in conversations and share their successes with their fellow Intel employees (though it is aimed at women, several men have joined the portal as well!)
In addition to our strategic initiatives, there are existing programs that our Global Women’s Initiative partner with: the Intel Women’s Leadership Council (IWLC) and Women at Intel (WIN). The IWLC is comprised of senior female leaders, VPs and Fellows, who sit on a council to champion and support existing and newly formed efforts around development and retention. There are currently 27 women vice presidents across multiple functions and three female Intel Fellows that are a part of this group. WIN is Intel’s largest employee group (remember when Linda talked about employee groups? ) with 10 chapters in the US and 14 international chapters in China, Japan, Europe, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Singapore and Israel. This group is aimed at providing networking, leadership and development opportunities to all of its members, including an annual leadership conference and regular workshops and networking events.
There’s a lot of work that is being done to increase women’s participation in STEM careers and there is still more work to be done. It’s a long and difficult path to solving the problem at hand, but we are in there, participating, working to make a difference.
If you want to get a sense of what life is like as a technical female inside Intel, I encourage you to tune in to podcasts featuring two of our Intel rock stars. Patricia , a senior research scientist with Intel China’s application research lab, and Floy, a Validation Platform Development Manager, both share their unique insights and advice to aspiring female researchers or engineers who would like to embark on a career at Intel. You can also take a look inside a day in the life of some of our other amazing technical females by visiting our Life at Intel site.