impossible for ideas to compete in the marketplace if no forum for
their presentation is provided or available." Thomas Mann, 1896
IN THE CORPORATE WORLD
to Information Technology
Shaila H. Mistry
Originally presented in
The House of Commons, British Parliament. London England
remember vividly my first job in California as an Account Executive. I had
been at home with my children for five years, so going back to work was a huge
shock .My first day at work found me hovering over the fax machine and copier,
quite perplexed. All the technology had changed. Five years out of the job
market and I felt like a beached whale.
few days later, my boss came into my office and announced cheerfully that I
was going to be in charge of the computerized accounting system. “Get
yourself some classes.” he said and handed me a catalog of computer courses.
waited till he left and looked at the catalog in sheer horror. I understood
nothing - it was all gobbledygook to me, I realized I was illiterate. I held
up the catalog to cover my face and wept. The fact that I held three degrees
paled into insignificance. That was fifteen15 years ago.
I am Vice president of Jayco Interface Technology, Inc. in California, United
is a leading supplier of control panel assemblies and components for
professional electronic equipment applications in the medical, military,
avionics, industrial, communications, security and GPS industries. Jayco also
serves the high-end appliance industry and other commercial applications.
Jayco’s primary strength is in developing cost-effective solutions for
complex applications. Thus Jayco plays an important part in the evolution of
its clients’ products by designing and engineering products to fit each
client’s needs, and then manufacturing them in volumes from a few parts to
hundreds of thousand. Among Jayco’s control panel components are membrane
switches, rubber keypads and touch screens. It takes these products and many
other components such as displays, encoders and other electronic devices to
produce complete assemblies often including sheet metal and plastic molded
cases and bezels.
role is to build, develop and maintain the infrastructure of the company. My
specific areas of responsibility are in policy and resource allocation,
finance, human resources, legal issues and administration.
the same technology that made me weep all those years ago fills me with
time I use my computer to write reports or to analyze numbers, I am still in
such amour at
the capability of Technology.
Town Hall Meeting
I was invited to a historic Town hall meeting on Terrorism with Mr. Colin
Powell, the US Secretary of State and Mr. Kofie Annan the UN General
Cities were linked together via video conferencing to enable a joint meeting
to ask questions of Mr. Annan. This could not have been accomplished without
current state of the art
Information Technology. In an instant it was possible to simultaneously
communicate ideas and share opinions across the nation on a very critical
current event. We sat in pin drop silence as history was being made. It was
a personal note, although I had barely any notice to prepare, I was able to do
the background research and collect the facts easily by tapping into the vast
information available in cyberspace. And again upon my return from the
meeting, in a matter of hours my analysis and evaluation was complete.
The Evolution and Current Status of Women Leaders
How Technology Has Become User Friendly
Reality Of The Corporate World
Evolution and Current Status of Women Leaders
are successful as leaders of business
is a significant growth in the number of women entering the field of Science
and Technology. Women have proven themselves to be capable leaders in every
field. Indeed, more and more women are emerging as CFOs and VPs of small to
large multinational corporations. Admittedly there are relatively few women in
the role of entrepreneur leader.
requires essential qualities and essential skills. Neither can be neglected
were behind men in the past and to an extent even at present. But there is no
reason why they cannot be equal now and in the future.
To some extent women place themselves at a disadvantage when they do
not aggressively acquire and stay ahead of IT. We need to eliminate some of
the traditional resistance to acquiring such skills and so dissipate old
and women have evolved differently
their respective rise to power and leadership. Throughout the technological
explosion of the 80s and 90s we saw a markedly different response from each
gender. The information explosion of the new millennium is the force that is
the new illiterate
rise to leadership is very direct – It is based on strength, aggression
and the ability to adapt swiftly to the demands of the economy and technology.
This pattern is quite clear in the corporate world. Men already have a natural
fit on technology and technical ideas. After all we know that boys show a
natural curiosity towards how things work. Indeed we encourage them and
consider this to be masculine.
path has been indirect - they have been a step or two behind in keeping up with such demands. They
have had to overcome the social and familial demands, problems of access to
jobs and education, and finally lack of equal opportunity driven by prejudice.
The same decades saw women quickly ascending on the changes in laws which
offered them increased education and employment. Keeping ahead of new
technology is critical to ensuring further advancement.
drives evolution of leaders today. This is the key
ultimate direction of societal and economic change is necessarily the result
of the forces of supply and demand. The demand for leaders with IT skills is
growing. We need to ensure that life long learning and accessibility to IT Education
is made available so that women do not once again fall behind.
us ask? Are we producing the right kind of leaders? Do we offer the right
accessibility to the kind of education and socialization of ideas to women to
encourage progress? We want more women leaders. Better accessibility to
information technology will better enable men and women to work side by side.
need to be fully conversant with technology in order to reach top positions.
Information technology is the wave that they can surf on to improve
accessibility to leadership positions.
is an enabler and a unifier. It helps eliminate many perceived social
Has Become User Friendly.
and Information Technology now play a critical but supporting
are the bedrock of the work environment.
secretarial roles in administration record keeping, data processing - all
traditional strongholds of women –
now being replaced by software. This is the turning point of the new IT
Technology not only eliminates mundane processing, it performs
these functions more efficiently and reliably.
most corporations and across the board there are examples of
who made their jobs go away because of their inability to adapt and learn the
technology. Seniority or tenure in the organization is no security.
understand that technology is the domain of engineering and medicine, but do
we recognize that technology is as critical in the field of Law, Finance,
Government, Education and administration? When I hire engineers, of course I
expect that they bring a complete portfolio of technical skills and continue
to keep them up to date. Even when I hire an account executive, I
that he or she has the forth R: Reading- Rriting - Rrithmetic and
technology has created new criteria of social class. Those that have access to
information and those who do not. This division has no reference or regard for
age, gender, race, social class or education.
been made user friendly, we just
need to make
sure that every girl learns to
"click and drag".
technology and the simplicity of use of computers have made it particularly
easy for women to learn; whatever their stage in life or their level of
am beside my self with excitement because I want to shout from the pulpit
“Ladies! Technology has finally become our friend”. We do not
understand how or why the Internet works – we just need to know how
to use it.
are proven to learn instinctively and emotionally and they learn better in
non-linear terms. We are hearing so much of Emotional Quotient EQ and of
IT and computers is non-linear. Ladies,
as we think in intersecting circles,
information technology is made for us!
is through technology.
can learn exponentially by the use of the web. The irony is this. That
education itself is possible through the medium of Technology. It has become
the forth R in every sense. When
making a presentation on George Washington my daughter produced a computer
disc and used PowerPoint for her 8th grade history class.
Indeed it was she who taught her teacher, bless her heart, not to be
afraid of computers. As mothers we need to keep up with and set a good example
for our daughters so we can stay in pace with the new generation.
have to constantly market their solutions
to their customers and to their corporations. We are
to do this with the use of multimedia aids. No more flip charts or white
boards. Credibility is associated with such modern visual media. The IT savvy
woman has significantly better career prospects.
Credibility is linked to Technology.
Empowering women through Education and Information Technology obviously increases such
has to be instant if not sooner.
the Corporate world, a routine
workday will witness a hub of communication with Europe, the Americas, the Far
East and the Lands down under. Supply
and Demand has grown exponentially because we are not limited by constraints
of geography. And with perpetually shorter product life cycles brought on by
the tireless march of technology and innovation, getting the product to market in
the shortest time possible has created the need for round the clock
development. Jayco, for example, maintains engineering teams in USA and Asia
to take advantage of the time difference. When we go to sleep in America our
engineering work is transferred to our team in Taiwan who continue the
process. By the time we report for work the next day we can build on the work
they performed overnight, and our development time is cut in half compared to
our competition. Kind of reminds you of The Shoemaker and the Elves does it
the demand for ever more expansive and accessible customer service has led to
companies setting up call centers half way around the world in places like
India and the Philippines. Local costs are no longer an acceptable constraint
for resources. If you cannot do it here, find somewhere where you are able do it.
Globalization is no longer just a buzz word, but it is all made possible by advances in
communications technology that allow people thousands of miles away to work as
effectively as if they were in the next cubicle.
enables, unifies us and makes us more equal.
on a personal level, our families live in a global network. I have family across all
the continents, as many of you do. With email I am able to stay in touch with
was a presenter at the 27th Triennial I.F.U.W. convention in Ottawa in
August, where 1000 delegates from 71 countries participated. The theme was
globalization and Education. There was such energy from the sheer exchange of
knowledge, experiences and of warmth and emotion.
after the conference we were able to continue that exchange through email and
Internet. In America we created a chat room to have follow up on the
convention. The Young Members Group from all parts of the world were able to
form a close network that continues. What an opportunity for networking professionally and
working together globally for common goals.
have made the World Wide Web the new corner shop and water cooler.
this experience we learn that we need to keep up with
There is demand for
technologically literate people – we need to ensure that women are getting a
piece of this pie.
corporate reality is that we live in a world of information technology.
Technology that is current is an essential not an option. Old technology is
just as meaningless as absence of technology
I look at the use of Computer Aided Drawing in my engineering
over the last 10 years we have seen such innovation that it would have been hard to
imagine a decade ago. A few years ago we were so excited to be able to create drawings on
the computer, which dramatically increased productivity and improved the
quality of documentation and record keeping. But now those early efforts look
so primitive – we were just using computers as electronic pencils. Now we
are already a few generations into 3D modeling. This was unthinkable for a
small company just 10 years ago. The computing resources required seemed
excessive and far too expensive and were solely the province of mainframes.
Now advances in both hardware and software have made it possible to create
complex 3D models and assemblies of hundreds of parts on our desktops using
computers similar to those we give our teenagers to play games with.
Jayco designs and “models” complex control panel assemblies on its
computers today. It can create cross-sections, perform tolerance analysis, and
demonstrate to its customers exactly how all the parts will fit together with
full motion video. The use of technology here can be seen to not only increase
productivity and accuracy in the engineering phase, but also reduce
development time and save costs by reducing the number of design revisions and
often eliminating the need for prototypes; and obviously it serves as a powerful sales
and marketing tool as well!
translate with a mundane example; two
years ago when I went get braces I was impressed that in an instant my
orthodontist was able to show me how I would look when it was all done. Now he
even has a monitor in front of every chair so you can watch TV, pull up X-rays
or pay your bill without ever leaving the comfort of the dental chair!
Technology is gender blind.
In the corporate world we see that leaders with the strongest technological
experience are more favored in the selection for senior positions. Therefore,
we have no choice but to
become more comfortable with the world of technology. The world is too
competitive for the old prejudices to survive – corporations want to remain
competitive, therefore they will hire whomsoever is best.
need to have direction and a strong Action plan implementing accessibility to
life long learning and to ensure the success of women at all levels.
We do understand that there are many who simply do not even have basic
technology. Something needs to be done to open up that population to IT
Some women feel IT is something that
simply cannot learn.
We need to understand that and
then take steps to rectify it.
need strong impetus from the policy makers in Education, Corporations,
Government and even from
Voluntary organizations. We need joint action!
Formulate specific IT Education that serves women the corporate world.
Develop partnerships with corporate leaders to formulating such
Have discussions with HR professional who daily witness the dynamic of
technology changes and how it affects the work force.
We need to reach women at all levels.
Girls in school
Moms at home
Women returning to work
Women in senior positions
Encourage community learning: link those
who "know" with those that
Voluntary Organizations should partner with Info Technology Companies
to educate and start with humble beginnings for the usage of email technology.
We used to have Bingo.
Let us now have cyber café meetings.
We should provide
opportunities for discussion and learning amongst
informal social groups such as PTA’s or Pensioner groups or Mom and Me
of Action in California
and girls learn better in safe environments
and when they have no fear of ridicule.
classes may be an option. This is where women’s organizations have a
critical role to play. I have worked actively on the following programs that
I can share with you:
Math Science Convention
the past 15 years we have been holding
for girls from the age of 12 and up.
Girls are exposed to the myriad choices of careers in math and science
and we encourage them to consider these options at an early age.
Science Summer Camps: Tech Trek.
camps for girls now exist at prestigious venues such as Stanford University.
The curriculum offered is rigorous study of math and science.
is much to be done; there is much that can be done.
The effort needed is small compared to the returns that are possible
us team together and access every opportunity to succeed.
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