IBC Life Sciences’ CEO Debra Chipman recently sat down with Patty Hatter, VP and GM of Intel Security and Software IT & CIO of Intel Security Group, to discuss why it is important to broaden the diversity of the STEM workforce, among much more about women in STEM.
Today, Patty is responsible for innovating and executing a sustainable transformation of Intel Security’s operational processes and infrastructure across the global organization. As CIO, Hatter is responsible for driving cross-functional partnerships to accelerate delivery of strategic business priorities that impact bottom line profitability. Focused on driving world-class operational effectiveness and scalability, Hatter leads all facets of Intel Security’s ongoing transactional business and shared services, as well as IT, risk and compliance, and M&A integration.
Here’s what Patty had to share with us:
Debra Chipman: Why is it important to your organization to broaden the diversity of the STEM workforce?
Patty Hatter: Well, it gets exactly to what we were talking about that the technologies are moving so quickly, the demands are increasing so much that we need everybody rowing in this boat. Everybody from every ethnic community – male, female, any geography. It can’t just be one type of person. There are so many needs from a societal point of view, from a corporate point of view. We need to open it up to anyone who has the aptitude and interest to go into this because the demand --- it’s here already. To what we were just talking about, I feel it out here in Silicon Valley of there are so many opportunities and relatively few people given the growth and we could use all the new talent we could get out there right now. That’s just in one area of the country around the world.
Debra: The follow-up question to that, which is a little bit off the script, is you mentioned interest and aptitude. Is it that a lot of people have the aptitude and there is something we could do to change the interest, maybe?
Patty: You know, you could be really good at something, but if you don’t like it --- and this applies to STEM, sports, art, probably anything. (Laugh). You could be very good at something, but if you don’t find it interesting, you are not going to be able to pursue it or have the interest or the passion or the drive to pursue it as part of your career. There is so much good you could do every day and if you’re going to work and you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and you don’t feel a connection to that, I think you would go in a different direction.
It’s how to get people excited about something that they can see themselves growing in that area early enough because what we were just talking about with kids and how the school systems work and everyone trying to get good grades. If you don’t feel like you can be good at something, you probably self-select out of something really quickly just in the education level, let alone in the workforce.
Debra: That’s a shame.
Patty: It’s easier for females to self-select out than probably males and it just tends to make the problem linger year after year after year.
Debra: That leads into the next question I have. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to career advancement to women who work in STEM? How can you – or us as information providers – help them overcome these?
Patty: It comes up in a lot of discussions I have and certainly I’ve seen it in the females I’ve mentored and worked with over the years. I find females are harder on themselves than males. There is more of a tendency to --- if there is a new job opportunity, a female will --- now this isn’t 100%, but more the norm than the exception. Females will look at the 10 traits needed for that role and will say: “Oh, I only have nine or I only have eight, so I need to go and do this other training or get this other degree and then I’ll be ready for that” whereas the guy will look at the 10 traits needed and if he had one – again, not 100% – but he’ll say: “Good. I’m in.”
A lot of women can be very task-oriented; drive from one thing to another and not look up and see the bigger picture and in a lot of cases not give themselves a break to say: “Hey, I’m very good at eight. Yeah, I don’t have those two, but I know I can learn that, so let me try. And here’s why I’m great at those other eight items.” It’s something we need to get past and talking about it is a way, I think, for females in STEM to acknowledge “Hey, I might have that tendency, too, so I need to compensate for it. I need to be conscious of that and not let myself fall into that trap.” If I had a dollar for every time I was speaking at a diversity event or a women’s event and I would hear women say: “I wasn’t quite right for that, so I didn’t even try”, I would have a million dollars. It comes up all the time and it’s seeing the glass half empty instead of half full.
I really do encourage --- I’ve been very lucky and I think this is why I am the way I am that --- you know, I had some opportunities very early in my career that I probably, in hindsight, if somebody would have told my boss “Are you kidding? Why are you asking Patty to do this?” Move to Europe when you’ve never even been on a business trip to Europe. Start a business that nobody has ever started before. He thought I could, I figured I could, so I didn’t worry. I worried --- well, I didn’t really worry about anything. I just figured I’m confident enough that I will figure out what I need to when I get there and work through it and if I had stopped too much to think about it, I would have thought of the 1000 reasons of why not to take those opportunities as opposed to “This is going to be a great learning experience. No matter what happens, I’m going to take it and go.”
Debra: It’s something I often identify in people. I say: “You have to have blind ambition so that you don’t get caught in all the traps along the way. You’ll just get so bogged down that you’ll never get anywhere.” I know there are times when I look back in my career and I almost self-selected out. It’s “There for the grace of God go I.” So, I’m fortunate that I was able not to do that.
Patty: It’s really looking at “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Debra: You’re not going to end up dead, which would be the worst. So, forge ahead.
Patty: Right. You have a strategy and you need to modify it. Well, that’s not terrifying. (Laugh).
Debra: It’s not going to cost me too much to experience that. So, how do you think companies and individuals like yourself can maximize the impact of women who are currently in STEM jobs to continue to grow these numbers?
Patty: Well, it’s interesting because I’ve been at a number of different companies and a lot of larger companies have female support networks and different diversity support networks across the organization so that I have to say I was never sure how much those were helping or how much people were leveraging them. But, it was interesting because we had started with McAfee a couple of years ago at a – we called it: “Wise Women in Security Affinity Group” – and I was curious --- it was a good thing to do, but how many people are going to come? How many females are going to get engaged? Is it really going to be meaningful work for their time to participate in these?
A lot of folks hadn’t been in other, larger companies that had these sorts of affinity groups. I was wildly impressed and pleased to see how much people got out of those conversations. You could tell it was a --- folks had a sense of “I must be the only one having these feelings. I’m not talking to anybody else about them. I must be the only one who feels a little bit unsure or hesitant to try or I’m not quite sure how to network. I hear people say that, but what does it really mean?” It was great to see that take off from nothing because every other company that I had been at, it was already started by the time I got there. So, it was hard to tell where the beginning and end was and what the delta really was. We could – from the experience we had from nothing going to these affinity groups in all of our big locations – you could really see how meaningful it was for the employees who were getting engaged because there really was a sense that other people were feeling this and other people were talking about it and there are these other ideas that women had on questions that I had in my mind, too and “This is really useful to me.”
So, for companies that don’t have that, I would encourage people to take the leadership in their organizations to get something started. And for companies that do have it, how can you change it up? How can you refresh it? How can you get more people engaged just so you can keep the freshness of thoughts going on?
Debra: Those have been great ideas. I wonder how many companies actually end up doing that. I think it’s probably fewer than we think.
Patty: I think it is. The large companies in most cases – large American-based companies, in most cases – have something like that. But that is relative to the total number of corporations. It is going to be a relatively small number. But, I would encourage even mid-sized companies because you could really see the impact and the participation and the engagement and the enthusiasm that it brought to the individuals. Also, how it made them feel about the company overall. “Hey, the company cares about me enough and some of the issues or questions or gnawing concerns I have to pull something like this together.” So, there was a positive benefit for the individual themselves, as well as the company overall.
Debra: Along those lines, having those groups in place must help as you integrate incoming women or all college students into the company. Can you elaborate on your experience doing that and what you think is the best way to integrate them in?
Patty: What to do with the college students. That’s a good millennial (question) overall. I would say the one thing that I would encourage organizations is not to leave them by themselves. They really seek an affinity group amongst themselves. Not just from a female point of view, but others of the same age. I’ve seen some examples where we’d love to have this to do over again where there was the idea of “Well, we’ll put this recent college grad in with all these very experienced, many-years-out-in-the-corporate-world folks and what a great learning they’ll have.” Meanwhile, the recent college grad is thinking “I have nothing in common with these people.” It doesn’t help build the bond between themselves and their co-workers and the recent college grad and the company.
So, as you are integrating recent college grads in a large organization, I think you have to look at not just the male/female affinity groups and the connection there, but also an age dynamic. And that would vary a lot by company and the seniority and profile of people in the organization. But they really want to connect with others with like experiences and organizations seem to be pretty mindful of that if they have a very age-diverse population.
Debra: I love the idea of the affinity groups. How can colleges – on the flipside – better prepare the students for jobs in STEM fields?
Patty: The one thing that I’ve started to see is colleges getting more curriculums around how to bring multiple disciplines together. How do you relate to it? How do you form teams? How do those teams form solutions that actually execute on something? It’s great to have individual book knowledge in your particular topic. That’s great and that is one way to learn, but that’s not how things work in the working world. Nobody is giving you tests on one subject. You have a business problem or a technology problem that you’re trying to solve and you can probably better solve it with multiple skills, very diverse skills coming to the table. I think the more colleges are able to help students work through how to manage those dynamics and how to participate in those teams – because sometimes you’re a participant and other times you are more in a position of leading those teams – and helping people start to work through that process in school so they have more of a base to start from once they get out into the working world. I think that would be very important.
I think it also helps the notion of “diversity is good”. Diversity of ideas, diversity of people is good because you are starting to experience that just from a subject matter expertise in schools that have that kind of curriculum that they are building. I think that gets people a little farther down the path of appreciating that diverse skill sets and diverse ideas and diverse individuals help the team, not hurt the team.
Debra: I’ve seen some kids get very focused on just what they know to pass the test and they get into the work world and no one asks them what they know. (Laugh).
Patty: Not just a calculus question. (Laugh).
Debra: It can be quite frightening.
Patty: It sounds so obvious in hindsight.
Debra: (Sigh). I know.
Patty: The programs are built in a certain way and there is always a bit of a sense of “This is what I had to do when I went to school, so the kids should have ---“
Debra: Yeah, why should they have it any easier? Yeah.
Patty: “This is the way I had to do it.” That many all-nighters, and that many tests, etc.
Debra: Or it would be great if there was a way --- one of the things we’re looking at is taking STEM and turning it into “STEAM” and adding “Art” because art overlies in a lot of STEM areas. You know, architecture, engineering. You have to have an art sense to create some of these things. But, it also plays into getting people outside of that “bookish” thing because art is experiential. It is something that you do to express yourself or create different things. It’s a good thing to overlay onto everyone. You mentioned the arts before.
So, where do you see the state of STEM in five or even ten years from now?
Patty: Well, I hope we are not seeing it as --- I hope we are not sitting here and seeing the same gap that we see now. I have to say, I find it very perplexing how there are fewer females in engineering school now than when I was in engineering school. I think back and there were not a lot of females in engineering when myself and my friends went through school, but I have to say my role model going to getting my undergrad and graduate degree in engineering was my dad. So, I just think my role model has to be a female. Although my mother – who was not an engineer – could have outdone myself and my dad combined. She was the brilliant engineer of the family and the only one without an engineering degree.
I think we need to open up how we draw connections and how we relate people and how do folks consider themselves role models because I didn’t think it was weird that there weren’t other females that I saw that weren’t engineers because I saw my dad.
Debra: Well, to you, you were gender blind. It didn’t matter. It was just “I want to be an engineer and I’m a woman, who cares? I want to be an engineer and that’s enough.”
Patty: Right. Right. To what we were talking about at the beginning, how do we make this – if you are interested and you have the capabilities – how do we get anybody/everybody to the table at a common level? I think there is something to that because in a lot of the role model conversations that you hear now – and I understand why. You hear people talk about wanting to get role models who are exactly like the people we are trying to put there. Same sex or same geography that they come from and I think we are just going to be in the same situation that we are now just ten years down the road, which isn’t what we need. So, how do we build as inclusive an environment as possible so that people can see themselves in whoever the role model is because the role model should be somebody who is role modeling behaviors and intelligence and perseverance and talent, not necessarily just role modeling “I’m male” and “I’m female.”
Debra: “I’m male and I’m good at math, therefore I can be this.” Yeah.
Patty: Get the feeling that it is open to anybody; anybody can do that because taking it back to my situation, that’s what I felt. So, it really didn’t bother me one way or another that I didn’t have female engineer --- females that I saw who were engineers when I went to engineering school because I still internalized with the role model who was my dad. It didn’t matter that he was a guy and I’m a girl. It’s just that he could do it, so I could do it.
Debra: I know that when I was going to college --- and it was very different just applying to college back then. But, I don’t think there was this emphasis on “Oh, they take 45% female or 54% male.” This whole thing where everybody is categorized and put into a “You are likely to do this because of your aptitude or your testing or whatever”. It just makes it so much harder to get out of what it is you’ve been programmed to be. All the way through.
Debra: They start programming you in grade 3 and you can’t break out of the barrier, even if you are really talented because they don’t let you. And then if companies are looking for the same, you are fighting two sides of a losing battle.
Patty: Right. So, I think going forward – to your question – going forward is more the --- and maybe this seems weird, but it’s trying to be inclusive, too.
Debra: I think you’re right what you said before. It’s not necessarily just women in STEM. It’s about women, it’s about minorities. It’s about anybody who is qualified – whether you fit the profile or not – because we are going to run out of people.
Debra: If the “Guide 80” is right and if you look at the stats, I think some of the stats I’ve seen are that 59% of the college degrees go to women, but only 12% are in STEM. That’s frightening. Because that’s a losing battle that we’ll never come back from if we can’t switch that out. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. It’s been fun sharing our thoughts across this issue.
Want to hear more on this topic? Attend The Women in STEM Summit October 22, 2015 in at Bentley University. THE WOMEN IN STEM SUMMIT offers a plan for short term action and long term progress by addressing the shortage of women in STEM degrees and careers. The Summit brings together companies struggling to fill their STEM job pipelines with female college students pursuing STEM degrees. It is designed to facilitate closing the gap between corporate needs for a STEM-enabled workforce and student questions about job prospects that align their passion with the needs of corporate America. For more information about The Women in STEM Summit or to register, click here: http://bit.ly/1Y3phay