Gender in the Workplace
Since joining Intel in 1996, I have spent most of my career leading teams in support of Intel’s supply chain. I have had roles in customer program management, planning and materials management, Intel’s customer planning and logistics organization, as well as in the Data Center Group, plus I’ve had two separate stints in IT.
The Intel population within the company certainly has changed in the last 22 years. It is important to realize that clearly, we have grown significantly as a company over that timeframe. It has been within my tenure that we declared focused efforts to ensure we had gender and underrepresented minority parity and I have seen significant improvement in our gender parity. Especially in the areas of leadership in some of our technical areas. While it is definitely better, I still do not think we can consider taking our foot off the pedal, as it were.
We need to continue to shape the pipeline—focus our efforts not only on certain genders but looking at the system as a whole. Where do we have areas that seem to struggle and would indicate we need to educate? Where do we have groups that seem to need more focus on fundamentals or metrics to measure or programs to improve? How do we encourage our younger generations to take more STEM classes and how do we ensure our population that we took great pains to hire feels that they are valued as much as their male counterparts and have equal opportunity to the career growth they desire? Do we have specific populations where we need more progress?
In other words, we need to move to a more focused and specific approach in our problem areas to continue to improve the whole and systematically change our makeup.
The Importance of a Diverse Workforce
We must recognize and believe that all types of diversity (gender, age, ethnicity, education, life experiences) will bring a unique perspective to solve a problem. Having more ideas solve a will result in a more-robust solution, product, marketing campaign or whatever the work is! More women are needed in tech because the more diverse we can make the workforce, the better our offerings and solutions will be.
Being a Woman in the Tech Industry
I have been treated differently many times over the years due to my gender, but I don’t let that define my experiences or color my feelings about Intel or the teams I am on. Instead, I take a pragmatic stance.
I know everyone has a bias and not everyone is self-aware enough to control how they act because of that bias. When I see or perceive that I am being treated differently, I assume it is unconscious and without ill intent, so I point it out or ask a question, usually privately to make sure we bring those biases to the forefront and the person with them learns from it. Now, I have had a few experiences where the person didn’t learn. In those cases, I was more public and more direct—usually I use a bit of humor but make sure I get my point across! I believe it is the obligation of ALL of us to help change the environment for the better. And sometimes that means addressing things head-on, so we pave a path for all those who come behind us to have a better experience.
Managing Work and Life
I take issue with the fact that anyone’s life is ever in perfect balance. I prefer to think of it as juggling! We all have multiple items or roles we juggle (be it women or men—parent, child, friend, partner, sibling etc.). Any given time, you need to pay attention to where you’re needed the most. That could mean focusing on one or two roles vs. all of them at that moment. But the key is never to let one role (assuming it is important to you) stay at the “bottom” of your attention for too long. You need to rotate the items and juggle. I think of it less as a balance and more of a rotation.
Now, do women still play a larger role in a family? Surely, in some cases women take on a significant role in the “management” of the family logistics. I certainly do in my family…but it is my opinion that in many cases, prioritization of our families is not gender-specific!
I hope that we all can role-model not making assumptions about someone’s career desires or family life—women OR men. It isn’t appropriate and, frankly, it is insulting. Meanwhile, to anyone that has been on the receiving end—don’t take it lying down—communicate, educate, and show up and show them what you are made of!
How to Attract More Women to Tech
I think we all need to play a role here in encouraging our young women to choose tech: offering STEM options early and allowing them to fall in love with science and math and computers and AI and data. We need to reach out of our networks and pull women along and into tech from other industries. We need to continue to do what Intel is doing in publicly declaring our pledges to diversity and putting our money behind companies and suppliers that do the same. Every little bit helps, and we all need to contribute.
In October 2018, Intel announced it has achieved full representation in its U.S. workforce two years ahead of its 2020 goal. Barbara Why, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of Human Resources for the Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group said,
“We are proud of our progress but not satisfied. We prioritize this as a business imperative to drive innovation and future growth. Diversity and inclusion cannot be treated as an add-on. It has to be integrated into everything we do and this is just the beginning. We need to make sure inclusion remains at the center. Every voice matters, and we need to listen and act to make change happen.”
I am proud of Intel and completely agree with Barbara. We need you! Follow your passion. When you are passionate about what you do, you can move mountains and you get a lot more satisfaction from working every day. Find a mentor and a sponsor. Think of your mentors as your personal board of directors—everyone has a role and we have active “meetings” as needed. Spend time cultivating your network. It matters and will make a difference as you progress in your career. Never compromise your integrity or stop fighting for what you think is right. Your brand is really all you have, so don’t jeopardize it. Lastly, give back. It will pay you back in spades—karma is real!