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Ladies First

Now before anyone reading this blog regards the title as being a bit out of date, let me first qualify my motivation and intent. First and foremost, I am the husband of an amazing woman and father of two strong, independent young ladies. I also take great pride in having five sisters whom I greatly adore, and my mother has always been an unwavering supporter of whatever I do. The point here, is the women in my life even beyond my family have always been a foundation of support both personally as well as professionally. In the world of technology there are countless examples of women who lead and excel.

One of the earliest examples of women in technology can be traced back to the beginnings of the telecommunications industry in the mid-nineteenth century. You see, long before automation and what we now enjoy, making a phone call required a person to physically connect one caller to another and that was initially the task of teenage boys. An example is the home security company founded by Edward Holmes, the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company (Link). Unfortunately, the more boys Holmes needed and hired, the more unruly the workplace became. Enter the scene Emma Nutt and along with her a much-improved experience for customers. Emma’s calm and soothing manner established an opportunity for women for what became known as “hello girls”. If you’re old enough, you’ll appreciate “Sarah” from the Andy Griffith Show at this point.

Fast forward to the 1940s and you find the tremendous impact women provided to our country’s space program in what eventually became the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL. In her recent book, “Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from the Missiles to the Moon to Mars” (Link), Nathalia Holt tells the story of the amazing women who performed spectacular tasks without the aide of computers to propel America into the space race (Link). Women mathematicians and scientists were a critical part of pioneering what is our space program today.

Today, there are countless women contributing to and leading throughout the technology industry. One example close to my area of focus is Amy Chang, Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group. Amy has been providing a new sense of renewed energy and direction for Cisco’s collaboration line of business and her leadership has been inspirational to say the least. Here at Katalyst, we are blessed with women leaders and contributors without whom we simply would not be able to fulfill our mission and deliver for our customers.

As we look to the future, I look forward to seeing what women are capable of. One of my daughters for example loves all things tech and endeavors to pursue a career in technology. Through programs like “Girls Who Code” (Link) that encourage young ladies to embrace technology, we can be sure that the opportunities for women will continue to be nourished.

As for me, my Granny much to by mother’s chagrin always said that I was just perfect even though I acknowledge that I am far from. The one thing I hope the reader takes away from this post is to pause and think about the women in your life, both at work and at home. What do these women mean to you as either a roll model, a mentor, or an inspiration? Full credit to my wife for the idea and encouragement for this blog post. To quote General William T. Sherman regarding Mary Ann Bickerdyke who was a Union hospital administrator during the Civil War, “She ranks me".

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