“seek inspiration from mentors—family,
friends, teachers, and/or prominent people—
to create careers combining your education,
talents, interests, and dreams.”
only to do the right thing but also to
broaden its customer base. Gerstner
created plans to embrace group differences in order to appeal to broader
sets both of employees and customers.
As a result, the company extended its
reach into women-owned businesses,
for example, as well as into new market segments.
maXIne D. BRo Wn: assoCIate DIReCtoR, eLeCtRonIC VIsuaLIzatIon
LaBoRatoRY, unIVeRsIt Y of ILLInoIs at ChICaGo; Co-authoReD the 1987
nsf RePoRt, VIsuaLIzatIon In sCIentIfIC ComPutInG, WhICh DefIneD
the fIeLD of sCIentIfIC VIsuaLIzatIon.
ed as a major step in this direction.
˲ Join organizations, such as the
Anita Borg Institute, the Workforce
Alliance of NCWIT, and Catalyst, that
are actively working on solutions to
problems facing women in the technical work force.
˲ Send the company’s women in
computing to some of the field’s conferences so that they can expand their
professional network. Company recruiters should attend such conferences as well.
˲Implement “best practices”
—those shown to be most successful
at increasing women’s representation in the technical work force (see
resources provided at www.ncwit.org/
˲ Make an active effort to place
more women in senior leadership positions. This policy is not only rewarding in its own right but it also increases the company’s ability to recruit and
retain other female talent.
leadership-development opportunities through programs such as the
Anita Borg Institute’s TechLeaders.
˲ Correct the company’s gender-relat-ed wage differential, thereby sending a
strong signal to its work force that women are deemed to be critical assets.
Consider the exemplary efforts of
IBM. Over the past 15 years, the company has effected dramatic and systemic cultural changes, resulting in a
370% increase in its women executives
and a 233% increase in ethnic minority executives (as of 2004).
changes occurred in four main ways:
demonstrating leadership support,
engaging employees as partners, integrating diversity goals with management practices, and linking diversity
goals to business goals.
When Lou Gerstner assumed control of the company in 1993, he deliberately set out to change IBM’s culture by uncovering, and endeavoring
to understand, differences between
underrepresented population groups
(including women and minorities).
The first step was to establish task
forces, composed of executives and
employees alike, for each group. Once
group needs were better understood,
management implemented practices
to establish and sustain diversity—
in creating pools of high-potential
candidates for recruitment or of outstanding employees for advancement,
women and minorities had to be well
represented. These changes, though
company-wide, were particularly focused on IBM’s technical workforce,
which it considered to be one of its
most critical assets.
From the beginning, IBM’s diversity efforts were driven by the desire not
Government has a Role to Play
Improving women’s representation in
computing must also entail more enlightened governmental institutions
and policies. The following agency
practices have been shown to be particularly effective:
˲ Rigorously adhere to evaluating
Criterion 2. In 1997, the NSF’s board
approved a reformulated merit review
policy that included two criteria: ( 1)
intellectual merit and quality of research, and ( 2) broader impacts of the
proposed activity. Criterion 2 required
that proposals address areas of societal concern, including the broadening of underrepresented groups’
participation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
(STEM) work force.
24 But although NSF
continuously improves enforcement
of Criterion 1 under its grants, it has
yet to establish a method for ensuring
observance of Criterion 2.
˲Hold academic institutions accountable for measuring diversity
among their employees through enforcement of Title IX. Four federal
science agencies have made efforts
“the theoretical and practical knowledge
embodied in cs is interesting as standalone
study. but the real opportunity lies in
equipping oneself to partner with scientists
or business experts, to learn what they
know and, together, to change how research
or business is conducted.”
aDeLe GoLDBeRG: foRmeR ReseaRCh LaBoRatoRY manaGeR, XeRoX PaRC;
founDInG ChaIRman anD Ceo, PaRCPLaCe s Ystems;
GeneRaL PaRtneR, PhaRma CaPItaL PaRtneRs.
feBRuaRY 2009 | vol. 52 | No. 2 | CommunICatIons of the aCm