Women of M2M
Apr/May 2013
Peggy Smedley, Editorial Director

Today more than any time in our history, women are playing a critical role in driving the global economy. In the United States alone, women make up nearly 50% of the workforce. Of that number, about 25% represent the technology industry. Women account for 30% of small businesses, which generate about 1.2 trillion a year in sales, according to the White House Council on Women and Girls, April 2012. Since 1962, women’s participation in the labor market has risen by 20 percentage points while the U.S. gross domestic product has more than quadrupled.

When it comes to the world of M2M, men clearly outnumber women. Looking even closer, men outpace women overall in technology. Upon closer examination, of the actual 47% of women in the workforce today, only 25% represent the technology industry overall. For that matter, the number of men eclipse women in overall math, science, and technology fields. Statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Labor reveal women held only one quarter of computer science-related jobs in the 2011 U.S. workforce and just about one-fifth of CIO positions at Fortune 250 firms last year. The data is also very telling in that women still make just 77 cents for every dollar men earn.

Ironically, for the few women who have achieved the highest ranks, they’d actually prefer not to speak about their gender. To them it’s not about gender. Their accomplishments truly represent significant milestones—not just for women in technology—but for women all over the world making career choices. These women perform their jobs with such grace and equanimity. Today to be a successful business leader is laudable in and of itself regardless of gender, so it’s no wonder these career-driven and tenacious ladies are revered. They also insist the most accomplished individuals must be persistent and never give up.

Since its peak in the mid-1980s, women in the U.S. computing and IT workforce, as well as in undergraduate and graduate levels of computer-science, have experienced a steady decline for more than two decades. A detailed study by researchers reveals that women in the science, technology, and innovation fields are alarmingly low across the globe. However, the few that are in high-tech have done a remarkable job of getting recognized across all roles in corporate America.

These women have shattered the blue power suit and the required office attire. With enthusiasm, passion, and drive, these women have now showed their strength in a traditional male-dominated world.

Ultimately, the women that now lead the technology initiatives realize human capital is their most valuable resource—with their vision comes execution. They need to be surrounded with the right people to achieve success.

Women Catch Up

For years, young women have had to overcome many subtle and even some not so subtle roadblocks when it came to learning technology or other advanced sciences. Gender stereotyping in school by teachers and advisors can prove to be very discouraging at a very early age. Despite all the subtle roadblocks, whether intentional or not, these individuals can send very strong messages, and in some cases the wrong signals to steer females into curriculums other than math or science.

Perhaps that is the reason why women still lag far behind their male counterparts, at least that’s according to a report spearheaded by WIGSAT (Women in Global Science and Technology) and the OWSD (Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World), and funded by The Elsevier Foundation. Phase one, which tested GEKS (Gender Equality Knowledge Society) framework in six countries and one region—Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, the USA and the European Union—revealed a gender divide exists in all countries, even those which have a highly developed knowledge-based economy. Simply, in all countries women are underrepresented in the science and technology workforce as compared to their male counterparts. The report also states women are under-represented in these degree programs by almost 30% and women actually working in the aforementioned fields are declining. Ironically, the report illustrates while this is in contrast to the number of women studying science and technology, which has increased, it has not translated into more women in the workplace. Women attribute the lack of flexible work hours and childcare as the main contributors for dropping out of programs. Women are seeking roles that provide gender equality, social and economic status, access to resources and opportunity, flexible work hours, equal pay, and participation in decisionmaking. Women today are seeking more parity.

On the flipside however, it should be acknowledged that women in general business continue to be the shining light in the current market overall. Despite all the strides being made, technology is still where women are lackingthe most.

So the question you might be asking yourself is whether these facts paint a grim picture for women in the technologyindustry now and into the future?

While the numbers appear to be low at the moment, the need for a more highly skilled workforce still exists. As more women enter the technology field it will soon relieve the shortage of skilled workers. The technology industry has been yearning for quite some time for talented programmers, engineers, and other technology professionals. As a result, there appears to be a groundswell of support for technology innovation. This amalgam of men and women has besoughtwomen to be more actively involved at all levels.

There are more women stepping up to act as mentors, and this is inspiring other women to reconsider technologyas a career option.

Regardless of all the hurdles that might discourage someone from entering a traditionally male dominated-world of technology, some women have become leaders and have been steadfast in their approach. They have found their way, and have moved up the ranks of their company. Through the years, they achieved their success, and now they are more determined than ever, to do their part in mentoring the next generation of female leaders. It’s pretty obvious when one woman helps another, without question, amazing things will happen. One woman can help another’scareer leap forward.

Times Are Changing

Whatever the role, it’s clear, women have an obligation to provide assistance, whether this means serving as mentors, investors, technologists, advisors, or even as employers. And as more women get involved it goes without saying amazing things will ensue. It is already happening at a host of companies both large and small. Just look around. Two of the largest technology companies in the world, HP and IBM, have women at the helm. And almost a dozen of the most successful M2M companies across the world were started or co-founded with support of women. In the M2M arena, the list of women might not be very long, but the winds of change seem to be blowing in a new direction for what has been an overwhelming male rule of thetechnology world.

According to a report by the Dow Jones, of the more than 20,000 venture-backed companies in the U.S. between 1997 and 2011, less than 7% of executives holding top positions were women. That’s actually less than half the number of women who are board members and corporate officers of Fortune 500 companies. However, more women in senior positions are popping up at startups, which would explain a lot about the interest in innovation and M2M. And we are now seeing more women take the helm of some of the largest tech companies in the world as the chief executive. In the past, only 12 Fortune 500 companies and 25 Fortune 1000 companies had women CEOs and presidents; today thiw has changed and we see morethan 21 and 42, respectively.

From the boardroom to even the classroom, the Women of M2M are offering those in technology-related fields a broad range of support, programs, and resources to advance other women in a new brave world we call M2M. The ultimate goal is to empower women to be architects of change in M2M technology. Look at any successful businesswomen and you will discover how much they truly believes in themselves and how they can inspire others since they have already begunpaving the way.

When women were employed in the ‘50s the best a women in business could hope to be was a secretary or a teacher. Fast forward to today and women have terrific roles models. Women are CEOs, VPs, CIOs, and Ph.Ds.,and the list goes on in the technology field.

That is why women, who have flourished in math, science, technology, all ultimately leading to innovation, deserve accolades. Despite all the hurdles they are an inspiration for everyone, male or female, young or old. They continue to demonstrate their tenacity and what they canachieve through creativity.

Many of the females that appear on the Women of M2M ranking are marvelous examples of true business prowess and professionalism that is rarely, if ever, duplicated. We had to scour the globe to find these truly inspirational M2M business leaders who would all but prefer togo along life just doing their thing.

However, Connected World believes one should never hide one’s talent under a bushel. Therefore, we want to shine the brightest light we can on these prodigious women so they can serve as a beacon for all those to follow in future generations. Please join us in congratulating all thoserecognized in the Women of M2M.

It’s clear that we need to coalesce around the infectious energy that radiates from all these amazing executive profiles into a campaign to empower females to spark thenext generation of innovation.

To read the profiles of the 2013 Women of M2M, please click here for the March/April issue.

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