Why We Urgently Need More Women in the Data Center

by Drew Robb

The Department of Labor reports that women represent 47 percent of the overall workforce. While some careers boast a majority of women, they only have 26 percent representation among computer and information system managers. When it comes to technical positions, the situation is worse. Although Microsoft has 29.1 percent female workers, only 16.6 percent are in technical positions. At Twitter, it’s 10 percent  holding technical jobs, and at Google, its 17 percent.

It is no wonder, then, that one of the top-rated panels at last year’s Data Center World is back by popular demand. Intended for both men and women, “Women in Data Centers” will be presented by female leaders in the data center industry with diverse backgrounds.

Moderator Nancy Novak (Senior Vice President for Construction at Compass Datacenters), said a team of highly qualified panelists will discuss how to grow interest in and bring to light the many opportunities for students of STEM subjects; how to encourage young girls to pursue such studies; and how to best mentor them as they attend college and eventually pursue a related career.

Those participating include:

  • Alise Spence, IBM Power Systems Cloud Offering Manager at IBM

  • Doreen, Lorenzen, IT Manager, Data Center for Hennepin County in Minnesota

  • Heather Dooley, Data Center Business Operations for Google

  • Jo Peterson, Vice President of Cloud Services for Clarify360

These experts will look over their own careers in hindsight and address what they would have done differently in their careers or education with the knowledge they have today. The panelists will also share their perspectives on diversity and inclusion in the data center industry.

We will each provide a personal story about either the challenges we’ve faced and overcome, as well as initiatives we were involved in that were designed to improve diversity within our firms and that produced positive results,” said Novak.

The depth of experience that exists within this the panel spans many generations of data center technology. Novak, for example, has personally managed a cross section of complex projects for many different sectors of industry. This diverse portfolio has allowed her to bring a variety of problem solving skills to any project she has faced regardless of the industry involved. In particular, her industrial and technical background includes aerospace launch facilities, the Pentagon, and other mission-critical government facilities.

Our distinguished panelists have managed data centers across a wide range of industries and environments – from modern cloud-based data centers to local government facilities that combined legacy equipment with the very latest technologies. Coupled with their deep technical know-how, these successful women will provide a greater understanding of why there is an urgent need for greater diversity within the workforce

“We will lay out the business case on why this matters to women working in data centers today,” said Novak.  

After all, there is global skills shortage which is going to severely impact IT for the next two decades, according to KPMG. By acting now and arming more women with the skills to succeed in the data center, the talent gap can be significantly reduced.

This important, audience involved conversation about how women are shaping our industry, will take place on Tuesday, March 13. Review the complete Data Center World program agenda for a list of all sessions and networking events.