Women’s History Month: Looking Back to Move Forward
2021-03-26 | 6 min read
In college, I recall reading about Elsie MacGill, the first woman to be admitted to and graduate from the electrical engineering program at the University of Toronto, my alma mater. Elsie went on to earn a master’s degree—effectively making her the first woman aeronautical engineer in the world—and continued a long, successful career as a trailblazer of engineering firsts in automotive and aviation.
Each year when Women’s History Month comes around to celebrate and recognize women’s countless contributions throughout history, I am reminded of Elsie’s story. As one of just three women in my electrical engineering class, which included about 100 male students, her story left an indelible mark on me. It’s one of the reasons I am compelled to pay-it-forward and do what I can to encourage and support women in business and technology, and why I am so proud to work at Keysight.
Inclusion & Diversity is a Business Imperative
As a global company, Keysight understands that creating an inclusive and diverse environment is critical to attracting, retaining, and developing top talent, and a key to our competitive advantage. I’ve seen the value of diverse teams first-hand throughout my career, and the power of having different ideas and perspectives to eliminate potential blind spots while ideating or working to solve a problem.
When I joined Keysight, I was impressed by the mentorship and development programs for employees, our involvement in STEM education programs for women and girls in the communities that we operate, and various other programs for our teams. In fact, according to a recent McKinsey study, companies that rank highest for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than lower-ranking companies, up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014.
It’s great to see progress in this area continue, but there is more work to do. According to the latest gender and diversity report from LinkedIn, women make-up just 24% of the global workforce in tech, and Keysight is committed to being part of the solution. That’s why I’m proud that over 50% of the senior leaders in Keysight’s marketing organization are female. I will continue to advocate for gender diversity and create a strong culture, where women are supported and encouraged to be part of the engineering industry. To that end, Keysight is actively developing new programs to create opportunities for girls, women, and underrepresented groups to learn more about engineering careers and the chance to develop the innovations of the future.
Building Awareness for Careers in Technology
Keysight employees are engaged in hundreds of STEM-related events and programs around the world each year. We with leading organizations that are working to create the next-generation of engineers, some of which include:
- Introduce a Girl to Engineering – For the past 15+ years, Keysight has hosted girls and young women from 6th through 12th grades for a day of fun, team-based learning, and engineering-related projects, ending in a competition to discover and learn about a famous female engineer.
- Black Girls Code – Keysight partnered with Black Girls Code (BGC) last fall, participating in a virtual cross-country hackathon for girls ages 7 to 17 interested in STEM. The event exposed them to computer science and technology skills, to support BGC’s goal of training 1 million girls by 2040.
- Society of Women Engineers – Keysight & Society for Women Engineers have a long standing relationship, focused on helping women succeed in engineering and leadership, and advancing women engineers in the workplace.
- IoT Innovation Challenge – In partnership with the National Society of Black Engineers and HBCU Buzz, we recently announced our 2nd annual competition for engineering students at leading universities. Student teams present plans to innovate new business opportunities and submit a video that demonstrates electronic measurement techniques, for a chance to win cash prizes and free test equipment for their school labs.
These programs and activities are just a few examples of how Keysight demonstrates its commitment to accelerating the drive for equality and ensuring the company continues to be a Great Place to Work for all of its employees. For me, I’ll continue to do my part to support and grow a diverse and inclusive workplace while creating awareness and opportunities for the next generation of women in technology and business.