Preparing Women for Leadership in IT–What WINS Is Doing

Marla Meehl, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, USA, marla@ucar.edu
Wendy Huntoon, Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, USA, huntoon@kinber.org
Maria Kalyvaki, Minnesota State University of Mankato, USA, maria.kalyvaki@mnsu.edu

Women hold up half the sky, but despite women's impressive achievements in education and the workplace over the last decades, men still greatly outnumber women in leadership, especially in top positions.

It is known that the foundations for transition from education and training to employment are usually established during the school years. However, in many fields like IT, other post-secondary opportunities help women to decide on their career paths. Therefore, individual training and apprenticeship programs have a vital role in promoting women in leadership roles.

The Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) apprenticeship program selects highly qualified women that are working in IT (Informational Technology) careers. WINS aims to be a mentoring program that prepares women for leadership in IT.

The poster discusses the outcomes of participating in the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) apprenticeship and what has achieved so far.

KEYWORDS: Women, WINS, SC, SCinet, IT, leadership, technology, apprenticeship, mentors, workforce

ACM Reference Format:
Marla Meehl, Wendy Huntoon and Maria Kalyvaki. 2020. Preparing Women for Leadership in IT–What WINS Is Doing. In Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC '20), July 26-30, 2020, Portland, OR, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, https://doi.org/10.1145/3311790.3399626

1 Introduction

Women hold up half the sky, but despite women's impressive achievements in education and the workplace over the last decades, men still greatly outnumber women in leadership, especially in top positions [1]. There are many factors that have to do with that, cultural, legal, and economical. Even though the women's movement, which began several decades ago, led to increased opportunities for many women, there still needs to be a more substantial commitment to developing the future women leaders. Ideally, this development should start in early childhood and progress through post-secondary education, but that is not always what happens [2]. Therefore, individual training and apprenticeship programs have a vital role in shaping the future women leaders.

1.1 What is WINS

Where is WINS in this? The Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) apprenticeship program selects highly qualified women that are working in IT (Informational Technology) careers and are in their early to mid-career to join the SCinet volunteer workforce for the SC Conference. The end goal is to contribute to developing the next generation of IT women leaders in the US [3], [4]. This annual program is grant-funded from the NSF (National Science Foundation - * NSF 2016 grant #ACI-1640987, ** NSF 2015 grant #ACI-1440642) and focuses on improving the female IT workforce. Women of all ages, races, backgrounds, IT-related professions and geographical areas within the United States are invited to participate. WINS recognizes that women make decisions to accelerate their careers at different times in their lives and for various reasons. WINS aims to be a mentoring program that prepares women for leadership in IT.

2 Methodology

Even though there is no guidebook or user's manual that dictates how to train a leader, the WINS program is intentionally trying to expose the participants to a range of experiences, projects, and collaborations. WINS performs the following activities:

3 Results

The percentage of women participating in SCinet has increased significantly since the program started in 2015, both in the number of women participating and the percentage of women on SCinet in general [7].

The above changes have led to the following:
  1. The percentage of women in SCinet leadership has grown from a low of 8% for SC08 to 40% for SC20.
  2. Women from the WINS program assumed SCinet leadership roles starting in SC17, two years after the program began.
  3. For SC20, 9 WINS awardees have leadership roles.
    Figure 2.
    Figure 2. Women in SCinet Leadership roles through the years [7].
    Figure 3.
    Figure 3. WINS graduates in leadership roles at SCinet through the years [7].

4 Conclusions

There is still lots of work to be done for WINS and other similar programs. Excellence is a moving target. What is at stake is not just the role of women in the IT profession, but rather the caliber of all leadership: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, wrote, "In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders." [9].

“It's been very educational and it's been very inspirational...Has really given me new direction and new potential...It's been a very positive experience here...It's an amazing group. I'm excited to take it all in.” - Kimball Sekaquaptewa, SC19 WINS Awardee.

“Being part of the WINS team has helped me immensely in my career. Not only the support that is entitled with this award, but WINS gave me the opportunity to work in this type of environment - which is SCinet - with the best of the best in people and equipment and I was able to gather so much hands-on experience in networking and security and now in leadership...I own all of this to WINS.” - Soledad Toledano, SC17 WINS Awardee.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank initially NSF for the financial support for the WINS program and the SC conference for the collaboration and support. Finally we would like to thank the WINS awardees and their mentors for making this program successful.

REFERENCES

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PEARC '20, July 26–30, 2020, Portland, USA

© 2020 Association for Computing Machinery.
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-6689-2/20/07…$15.00.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3311790.3399626