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Seven Female IT Leaders Shattering Glass Ceilings

April 18, 2017

The technology industry is a male-dominated field. Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Information Systems Professor Cindy Riemenschneider has a significant body of research on the topic of women in the industry and continues to investigate the role of women in information technology positions.

When Riemenschneider's Information Systems graduate assistant Emily Iazzetti expressed interest in the topic, Riemenschneider offered to be Iazzetti's advisor on her graduate project.

"I did not realize there was so much conversation around gender and information technology when I decided to make this career switch," Iazzetti said. "I was very intrigued the more I read about it. I was glad to add to that body of research."

Iazzetti, who transitioned from her seven-year career in local broadcast television to pursue her master's degree in information Systems, decided to use her journalism skills to interview female technology leaders for the project.

"I wanted to know what was it about these women that helped them achieve that highest level of success working in technology? In an industry that has had trouble getting women interested in the field, finding entry into the field, but then also staying in the field and eventually being able to progress in the field up to leadership positions? I wanted to identify what sets these women apart and to take what lessons we could learn from them to pass on to women who are entering the field now," Iazzetti said.

She identified and sought out women who have reached the top levels of leadership in technology at their respective companies. She conducted in-depth interviews with seven female chief information officers over the course of a year for the project.

"I thought it was a neat opportunity for me, especially making a career switch to get advice and input from some very successful women," she said. "It was so interesting. Every single woman we spoke to was just awe-inspiring."

The female leaders shared their experiences with mentorship, workplace discrimination, job advancement, the challenges of motherhood with a full-time job, the importance of a supportive spouse and their advice for newcomers to the industry.

"I was looking for a job during a lot of these conversations," Iazzetti said. "I have all their voices inside my head now, so as I was trying to make decisions about what I would do, I felt like I was able to grow from what they had told me. It encouraged me as I decided what job I should take."

Iazzetti graduated in December 2015 and has since joined the ranks of women changing the face of the technology industry.

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