We’ve made a lot of progress when it comes to women in technology careers. More and more women are taking leadership positions across the business world, with women leading large and well-known companies like IBM, Yahoo, Facebook and Lockheed Martin, to name a few. The times really are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan said, as we see more young women than ever seeking professions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with support from organizations like the White House’s Council on Women and Girls, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and with well-publicized initiatives at schools like MIT and Stanford.
So it was gratifying to hear that my colleague, Irene Lam, Vice President of R&D and Engineering at Tyco Security Products, was recently named one of the Women’s Security Council 2015 Women of the Year, an award that honors the top female professionals in the security industry. As a gifted leader and active philanthropist, Irene really embodies the professional woman of today and represents just how far women have come in the world of business and technology.
Today, Irene leads a 500-person department responsible for product development, from the design phase to the manufacturing phase. She is responsible for the launch of many new products each year and oversees a network of technology development centers located across the globe. Even in today’s environment, such a role is still more commonly held by men. Irene is also helping to change that reality by actively participating in Tyco Security Products’ mentoring program, where she and other leaders give of their time to several candidates each year, most of them women.
Irene and I are lucky to work for a company that values the recruitment and training of women and sees its future success including women’s contributions and leadership. It’s with good reason, as it’s been well documented that companies that embrace a diverse, highly skilled and educated employee population are simply more successful than those that do not..
Yet we realize that there is more work to be done. I’m proud to say that there has been a substantial increase in the hiring of women at Tyco Security Products in the last five years and a growing interest by women in working for the company in many of our locations throughout the globe. Currently, approximately 40 percent of our employees are women, with many of those women involved in product management, marketing and engineering in various locations around the world.
Tyco Security Products also supports women through internal programs such as the Women’s Growth Network which encourages women to seek technology-oriented roles within the company, and with involvement in events such as the annual Massachusetts’ Conference for Women, an event providing education on entrepreneurship and professional development. We also recently sponsored a local event called the All Girls Challenge, a two-day creativity marathon that invites girls to work in teams to come up with a product that solves a social problem. The program asks participants to draw upon Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills to create their product.
It is evident that as our professions become increasingly more technology-based, businesses must add technically talented women to their ranks in order to continue to compete and succeed. I feel fortunate to work in a company that has that vision, that recognizes the vital and significant roles women will play in defining its the future. With leaders like Irene and companies like ours, we are developing the next generation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, which can’t help but benefit all of us.