By Samantha Kemp-Jackson (Founder & Principal, Triple M Communications)
The announcement that two of the largest technology companies are now headed by women gives us pause. Ginni Rometty’s just-announced role as the next CEO of IBM, in addition to Meg Whitman, who became CEO of Hewlitt-Packard (HP) last month forever changes the landscape of America’s high-tech world. Furthermore, these recent appointments redefine what has thus far been a largely male-dominated field, at least at the senior ranks. Both women spoke at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit that was held in Laguna Niguel, California in early October. The attendee list was a veritable “who’s who” of female movers and shakers, including such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington and Gloria Steinem. While these women certainly led the charge in the areas of politics, online publishing and feminism, the tech leaders may very well have been the ones that are heralding in a new era of change in the world of technology –- and beyond. That being said, the road to success was not easy.
“Growth and comfort do not coexist,” offered Rometty. She was counseled by IBM Chief Sam Palmisalmo to “be first and be lonely,” meaning that being a pioneer and leader is often a solitary role. Nevertheless, this edict was clearly not enough to keep Rometty and similarly enterprising women from their determination to succeed. In spite of what may have seemed like a solitary road ahead, they persevered and have reached the highest of positions available in their chosen fields. And unlike other women who are still working hard to break through the very thick glass ceiling, they have arrived. One can’t help but wonder if perhaps the high-tech field is on some level, more accepting of women’s contributions and overall leadership. Could it be that the large contingent of younger tech aficionados that make up the core demographic of this sector has something to do with it? In a variety of older and well-entrenched fields, the inability for women to advance beyond a certain level unfortunately continues. Traditional areas such as high finance, science and even medicine to some degree have still remained disproportionately male, at the senior ranks. In many of these sectors, the writing on the wall remains the same, and the glass ceiling that keeps women from significant advancement remains in place. This is not evidently the case in a field where innovation and new ideas are commonplace. A female leader, in these instances may very well be seen as a clear reflection of the changing guard, in keeping with the overall philosophy of progress.
While we continue to push for greater equality for women in all areas of the business world, the appointment of Ginny Rometty to IBM’s helm is an encouraging sign. There is an ongoing hope that advancement for other equally qualified women in the world of high tech will eventually be realized. Until there is an equal male/female split amongst the highest corporate ranks in sectors, it might bode those females just starting out in their careers to perhaps consider a less conventional route. All we are saying is give tech a chance. This post was originally posted at Technorati.
About the guest blogger: Samantha Kemp-Jackson is the Founder and Principal of Triple M Communications, which focuses on public relations (primarily technology) as well as writing. Samantha is a seasoned public relations and communications professional. Previous to starting Triple M Communications, Samantha was an Account Manager at APEX Public Relations. Samantha is a regular contributor at Technorati and Chic Savvy Travels, and blogs at Multiple Mayhem Mamma.