CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 10

I've held technology leadership positions in three
industries: automotive, computing, and now
biotechnology. Being a woman hasn't hurt me in
those roles. Yes, there have been instances when
I may not have been taken as seriously as a male
counterpart or may have been judged differently,
but I've learned that the best way to deal with those
situations is to address them with knowledge,
honesty, and facts.

An Eclectic Career
"I took the one less traveled by," wrote poet Robert
Frost in "The Road Not Taken," "and that has made all
the difference." In some ways, this has been the story

" As a woman in technology,
I was always the minority,
whether it was in the classroom
or in the field. For me, it
was a very welcoming and
invigorating environment. As a
novelty in the class or on the job,
people were interested in why I
was there but more importantly
in what I was doing. "

of my career. In college, I started out in mechanical
and industrial engineering. Within a semester or two,
I fell in love with computer science as I was learning to
do some FORTRAN programming (now that will date
me). At the time, some 30 years ago, this was a road less
traveled - and almost not traveled at all by women. But
I enjoyed math and took that route.
I absolutely loved the programming, so I kept going.
Later, I did graduate work in electrical engineering and
computer control systems. As a woman in technology, I
was always the minority, whether it was in the classroom
or in the field. For me, I never gave it a second thought;
it was a very welcoming and invigorating environment.
As a novelty in the class or on the job, people were
interested in why I was there but more importantly in
what I was doing. In fact, I didn't find it an issue to be in
an almost all-male environment, and I always found the
proverbial stage to demonstrate my computer science
training. It was very exciting.
I was very lucky to spend 20 years in the auto
industry, which afforded me many opportunities.
An important one was leaving IT to work in the
business operations for six years - I tell people that
this was the best IT training I had. Another great
opportunity was going to Europe for a couple of years.
Holding a leadership role in IT as a female in Europe,
I was certainly in the minority, and I took that as an
opportunity to demonstrate my capabilities.

CIO Straight Talk | 10

Dealing with a Dual Standard
If I make things sound very smooth-sailing, it's because
I've either made a conscious decision to move away from
unfortunate situations or I've been able to fix things
where I thought I was treated differently than a male
executive. I've been in situations where, for example,
assertiveness, boldness, and courageousness for male
colleagues were viewed as just that: assertive, bold, and
courageous.
But when I showed these same attributes, they were
deemed as aggressive or too bold or emotional. I was
once told I needed to be less of a Type A personality -
in a room full of Type A personalities! It makes you sit
back and think, "How could there be such a disparity
in interpretation between similar characteristics
among men and women?" Fortunately, there has
been significant progress in recent years around
valuing diversity and gender differences. Successful
corporations, like Biogen, seek out diversity, recognizing
that diverse teams are more productive - 24 percent
more, according to some studies.
So what was my response to the situation above? I



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6

Contents
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Cover1
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Contents
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 3
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 4
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 5
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 6
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 7
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 8
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 9
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 10
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - 11
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CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - InsertA
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CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - InsertB
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CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Cover3
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 6 - Cover4
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