Of late there have been a lot of articles and columns discussing the lamentably small percentage of women who are entering STEM fields. All posit potential causes for the decline noted over the past couple of decades, and some even offer advice on hiring practices or changes in the work environment necessary to attract and retain talent of the female persuasion. Very few, however, attempt to address the issue where it begins, in high school and college.
CloudNOW, which has been focused on amplifying the contributions of women in cloud computing, is attacking this issue with a new effort designed to mentor and support young women identified as having exceptional strength in STEM throughout their entire career lifecycle. They are piloting a program starting this fall in the SF/Bay Area and identifying high-potential young women who have both and interest and aptitude in STEM fields, to participate in a CloudNOW developed coursework of hands-on mentoring, workshops, hackathons, and contests.
The STEM Girls program will be made available publically, so that any organization can apply it, and provide feedback and revisions to the program, making it a true community effort. CloudNOW is seeking foundational funding and anticipates that in the next 18 months they will roll out a college scholarship program providing support through college.
The programs’ mentorship continues to carry into career lifecycle management by assisting with opportunities for internships in either a corporate or entrepreneurial track, provided by CloudNOW’s extensive and impressive executive network. The belief is that by providing mentoring and support as well as scholarship and early career opportunities that young women will be more confident in not just their talent but their choice to enter STEM as well as their ability to succeed and excel once in the field.
“This is the long-game to help support and guide talented young women through their entire career in STEM, and the only plan that provides that support along the entire continuum, from start to success”, says CloudNOW founder Jocelyn DeGance Graham. Jocelyn points to CloudNOW events like local meet–ups and the Top Women in Cloud Innovation Awards as part of the continued support for women once they’re practicing in their field. “At the end of their career-life cycle, we want all the graduates of the STEM Girls program to be actively shaping the future, I am confident we will uncover the next Sheryl Sandberg.
CloudNOW’s organization certainly has plenty of talented role models to design and successfully implement and back-up the big vision of their STEM program. The following exceptional women were named as the CloudNOW Top Women in Cloud Innovation, and will present their winning projects live at the CloudNOW Awards, June 17 in SF:
- Alolita Sharma, Director of Engineering, Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation)
- Bethany Mayer, Senior Vice President and General Manager, HP
- Evelyn de Souza, Compliance & Data Privacy Leader, Cisco; co-Chair Cloud Security Alliance
- Ingrid Frazen, Senior Program Manager Industrial Cloud, General Electric
- Lily Cole, Founder and CEO, Impossible.com
- Kimberly Gress, Director of Client Services, Dell Boomi
- Maria Vello, President and CEO, National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA)
- Poulomi Damany, Vice President of Product, BitYoda (Andreessen Horowitz)
- Rathi Murthy, Vice President Shared Services, American Express
- Rhonda Vetere, Chief Technology Officer, Estee Lauder
This third annual event for CloudNOW also features a number of high-powered women in technology speakers including Carol Fawcett, CIO of Dell Software; Manjula Talreja, VP Cloud Practices, Cisco; Margaret Dawson, Chief Cloud Evangelist, HP; Vanessa Alvarez, cloud thought leader, and former Forrester analyst; Dr. Andrea Davies, Stanford’s Clayman Institute, which supplied the data for Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean-In.”
“The goal is not just to get girls into STEM, but to stay and excel in a STEM career,” Graham adds. “That requires continued support and networking opportunities like those offered by CloudNOW, including the recognition of their work and dedication through events like Top Women in Cloud.”
CloudNOW would like to specially acknowledge the technical leadership and work of the STEM Girl Committee Chairs, Evelyn de Souza, Compliance & Data Privacy Leader, Cisco; co-Chair Cloud Security Alliance; Shobana Radhakrishnan, Vice President of Engineering, Mindflash; and Megan Chinburg, Vice President of Engineering, Cedexis.
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About the Author
Lori MacVittie is a CloudNOW Steering Committee Member, and subject matter expert on cloud computing, cloud and application security, and application delivery and is responsible for education and evangelism across F5’s entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.