CIO Lunch and Learn explores issues and opportunities for women in IT.

Students, alumni and other guests recently had a unique opportunity to engage with top women CIOs on the issues facing women in the information technology (IT) workplace. A “Distinguished CIO Lunch & Learn” at Florida International University (FIU) included a panel discussion, presentation of “Women in IT: The Facts” report findings and an awards program recognizing local high school girls.

ITWomen, a local not-for-profit organization, and the Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MSMIS) program in the College of Business Administration’s Chapman Graduate School of Business, presented the event.

The most recent “Distinguished CIO Lunch and Learn” drew an audience of 125.

“The session was a great way to understand the future for women in IT, and to see good examples of women currently holding prominent IT leadership roles,” said Debra VanderMeer, who teaches in the Department of Decision Sciences and Information Systems (DSIS) and who welcomed the audience of 125.

The panel consisted of Nilda Puig, vice president and CIO of Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Device and Diagnostic Division in Latin America; Pat Smith, CIO of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc.; and Kellie King, director of Global Business Systems, Tyco Retail Solutions.

From left to right: Sherry Giordano, executive director, ITWomen; Debra VanderMeer; Victoria Usherenko, founder and president, ITWomen; Catherine Ashcroft; Joyce Elam, executive dean of the college and member of the ITWomen Advisory Board; Pat Smith; and Kellie King

“The event helped me understand the bright future and the growing need for IT professionals,” said William Wandurraga, MSMIS student.

“Attendees were able to ask the CIOs questions about women in IT that most would not dare ask in the workplace, such as about the glass ceiling and office politics,” according to event organizer Monica Chiarini Tremblay, DSIS faculty member.

Predictions of 50 percent industry staffing shortage reported.

The audience learned of IT career opportunities for women when Catherine Ashcraft, senior research scientist at the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT), spoke about her new report, “Women and IT: The Facts.” She related how the number of early- and mid-career women in IT has been declining. If current trends continue, by 2016, the IT industry will only be able to fill half its available jobs. Reversing female attrition would add 220,000 workers from the pool of women who would have left their jobs.

Awards presented to high achievers.

During the event, nine young women from South Florida high schools were recognized for their computing and technology accomplishments and awarded the “NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award” by ITWomen.

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