Friday, October 10, 2014

Recognizing Female Talent in Tech, Welcome to the 21st Century, Mr. Nadella of Microsoft

The news came to me this morning from my husband who had received it in his ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) daily email newsletter and he was shocked.

Yesterday, at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, Satya Nadella, the Chief Executive of Microsoft,  suggested that women who do not ask for more money from their employers would be rewarded in the long run when their good work was recognized.

The New York Times had a great article on this "misspeaking"  complete with a video in which Dr. Maria Klawe, the President of Harvey Mudd College, and former Dean of Engineering at Princeton, completely disagrees with him. I have written about Dr. Klawe, since I am a big fan of hers and she has been very innovative in computing education and in breaking down barriers.

The Twittersphere lit up with Nadella's telling women not to ask for a raise but to wait for good karma - I kid you not! 

We are, last time that I checked, living in the 21st century, in which Lean In has become the mantra, Larry Summers is no longer President of Harvard University, but Drew Gilpin Faust is and she was the Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study when I was a Science Fellow there 2005-2006.  Coincidentally, in the same Times article, Claudia Goldin, who was also a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard my year,  is quoted.

Female talent in tech needs to be recognized and rewarded and having the right salary is one clear way in which to do this. Dr. Klawe regrets not speaking up when negotiating for her offer from Princeton and even more recently from Harvey Mudd College.

Another way to recognize females is through professional society awards.

For example, WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences),  a forum of INFORMS, started the WORMS Award 9 years ago.  The Award for the Advancement of Women in OR/MS celebrates and recognizes a person who has contributed significantly to the advancement and recognition of women in the field of Operations Research and the Management Sciences (OR/MS).

Several of the WORMS Award recipients have also been  elected  INFORMS Fellows: Cynthia Barnhart of MIT, Brenda Dietrich of IBM, Kathy Stecke of UT Dallas, yours truly in 2013, and, this year, we have two out of the twelve 2014 INFORMS Fellows being female and also previous WORMS Award winners: Dr. Candi Yano of UC Berkeley and Dr. Radhika Kulkarni of SAS. WORMS has had outstanding officers, including Laura McLay, now at the University of Wisconsin Madison, who served as President, and has done great work in advocating for female tech professionals - thanks!

Perhaps Nadella should come to the INFORMS Conference in San Francisco and meet some truly successful, wonderful female and male pioneers in tech.

Nadella might learn something from Ed Lazowska, who is a Brown University alum, as am I. In an article in USA Today it was stated:  Hiring women and minorities isn't about window dressing. It actually makes it a better and more profitable company, says Ed Lazowska, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington-Seattle. "Engineering (particularly of software) is a hugely creative endeavor. Greater diversity — more points of view — yields a better result," he said.

Indeed, and they should be fairly compensated!