Narrowing the gap

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Published: January 11, 2016 12:10:12 AM

Women will play a key role in defining the technology world both as a customer and key enabler of innovation, according to Intel CIO Kimberly Stevenson

The adoption of technology in everday life has only quickened as this defines that everything is smart whether it is a mobile phone, wristwatch, or home. In such a fast changing world, where new kinds of technologies and applications are pouring in by the minute, the importance of women in making these key decisions has only increased.

Today across the corporate world not just limited to technology companies alone, there are increasing number of women who are playing the key decision making roles and are also important participants in generating new ideas, executing plans. Kimberly Stevenson, corporate vice-president and chief information officer (CIO), Intel, said, “Multiple technologies coming together in what is essentially the social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) stack is creating this enormous value creation and disruption capability. And a few things have changed.”

According to Stevenson, in 2014, 65% of all consumer electronics were purchased by women and close to 89% is influenced by them. “Today the main customer is women,” she remarked. Stevenson currently leads the Intel Network of Executive Women (INEW) as the Subcommittee Chair for External Thought Leadership and Outreach for engaging girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

As there is a conscious effort by various technology companies to bring in more women into their fold, the semiconductor giant is also leaving no stone unturned to make this into a reality. The company has numerous programmes starting from schools, colleges and going all the way to the workplace to create an environment which will encourage more number of women to get into the field of STEM and also a fruitful career path. “We want to see that women succeed and have created number of networking groups so that they can advance their careers while also get exposure to new technology skills,” Stevenson said.

Though Intel has been working on diversity for the last 20 years, it did a very fundamental study in the first quarter of 2013 and there were certain stark conclusions which came to the fore. Women felt isolated in the workplace and they needed a more level-playing field in terms of the teams. Secondly, it was revealed that men find their jobs through the informal network while for women it was more through the formal route.  Lastly, women see technology career opportunities very differently from men.

“Women play an important role in evolution of technology and there is a lot of room for growth which creates business impact. The role of the women is to be voice of the customer,” Stevenson said, while adding there are certain biases which is quite natural and one only needs to uncover them. As Intel continues to expand its mixed gender programme to bring more women under its fold, it has realised numerous benefits through these collaborations. “Women have strong propensity for relationships, and there is a lot more we can do,” Stevenson said.

As it is a global policy of Intel to bring more women under its fold, it has also understood that there needs to be certain changes in different locations depending on the local conditions. For example in India, the maternity benefits for women in terms of leave is extended. The semiconductor giant also ensures that they are in touch with the women employees who have left the organisation so that they are connected and can rejoin easily if any opportunity arises.

Women will continue to play important role in the world of technology in the days to come and the results are there to see in terms of multiple benefits. “I am a great believer of mixed gender teams as they perform better. Today, the way workplaces are developing, it is becoming better for women,”  said Stevenson.

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