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Coming Soon: Amazing Grace – The True Story of a Computer Science Pioneer

If I told you about a woman who worked on the Mark I and ENIAC Computers in World War II, who was instrumental in solving a key problem of the Manhattan project, and who went on to develop one of the first computer science languages – COBOL – you’d say they should make a movie about her, something similar to the Imitation Game.

Well that mathematician exists, and her name is Grace Hopper. Sometimes called “Amazing Grace,” she is a true pioneer of Computer Science, and she continues to inspire engineers to this day. No, they haven’t yet made a feature film (they should), but you should check out this short documentary put together by the fine folks at 538 and ESPN films.

At a moment in time, when we’re looking to inspire girls and young women to enter the fields that make up STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – we should look to Grace Hopper as a model of how to thrive.

That’s just what the Anita Borg Institute has done with its annual Grace Hopper conference. Twelve thousand women engineers from around the country and the world will come together in Houston this week to build on Grace Hopper’s legacy, to discuss the most critical computer science dilemmas of the moment, and to answer the question of how to increase the number of women engineers down the road.

Cisco is proud to be a diamond sponsor of the conference, and just as proud that 300 of our best and brightest minds will be attending the conference.

Conferences like these don’t register much attention inside the Beltway, but they should. Legislators and appointed officials from both sides of the aisle have been consistently drawing attention to the under-representation of women in science and engineering careers, and the need for our country to diversify and expand the student pipeline that companies like ours depend upon.

We agree, and that’s why we’re devoting so many resources to this important, and growing, conference.

In careers where men still outnumber women, it’s vitally important for women to connect with other women in order to be reminded that others are on a similar career journey, and managing the same professional and personal challenges that go along with that career choice. And to be inspired, by “Amazing Grace” and the amazing women they will meet this week.

So as the conference in Houston opens, I urge you to think about Grace Hopper’s life and legacy. She defied the odds, made an enormous contribution to our nation and to scientific discovery, and did it at a time when women were locked out of so many opportunities.

Seventy years after Grace Hopper first started working on computers, there are so many opportunities available to women, and we need to unlock even more. For me and many of my colleagues, Grace Hopper will continue to serve as a guiding light and inspiration as we take on this critically important challenge.

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The Power of Diversity

In the dynamic and fast-changing technology sector, it takes a smart, motivated, diverse workforce to stay ahead of the competition. At Cisco, we are committed to a culture that values such diversity, which makes us better, stronger, and more agile.

The Executive Leadership Council is an organization that is helping improve the pipeline of diverse executive-level talent. Through its Foundation, the ELC provides scholarships and training programs designed to help African-American employees discover pathways to promotion, up to and including the senior-most executives and board members of America’s largest companies.

Tonight, at the ELC’s annual recognition gala at National Harbor, the organization will celebrate and recognize individuals and companies that are supporting the ELC in its activities, and the individuals it is advancing through its programming.

Cisco is proud to be the Lead Sponsor of “The Power of One” celebration. Our CEO, Chuck Robbins, will be on stage as part of the event, and Cisco will be well-represented by executives and leaders from within our company.

“At Cisco, we strive to connect everything, innovate everywhere, and benefit everyone—but we can’t do that without the power of our people,” says Chuck Robbins. “Each one of our employees brings unique talents, backgrounds, and experiences that contribute to our success as a company. It is only by creating a culture that values all diverse perspectives that Cisco will be able to capture opportunities in the future.”

Congratulations to the Executive Leadership Council on the occasion of their annual gala, and for their hard work in opening up a diverse talent pipeline for future executives.

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Trade Agenda Gets a Boost

Today, Cisco is pleased that the United States and 11 other countries in the Asia Pacific region concluded negotiation of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. We are eager to review the details of the Agreement when the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) releases the final text in the coming weeks.

“TPP represents an important opportunity to lower trade barriers on technology goods and services, which benefits not just the producers, but more importantly, the users of cutting-edge technology,” stated Jennifer Sanford, Cisco’s Senior Manager of International Trade Policy.

“Cisco congratulates Ambassador Froman and the entire interagency team for securing commitments that will benefit the tech sector and the growth of digital trade in the region,” added Sanford.

“We look forward to working with our counterparts in the tech sector to evaluate the final deal and to engage Congress in its consideration of TPP implementing legislation,” concluded Sanford.

For more information about TPP, see the USTR Fact Sheets.

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As Two Digital Divides Close, A New One Threatens

Five years ago when it was created, the UN Commission for Digital Development stated that “the digital divide continues to be a development divide that must quickly be bridged.” Since then, huge progress has been made in closing the digital divides in the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly telephones and the Internet. A new potential digital divide may be emerging, however, in the adoption of machine-to-machine (M2M) deployment and services, a key element in the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything.

The latest data from the Broadband Commission’s 2015 State of Broadband report launched this week, shows the gap in the adoption of telephones falling rapidly, particularly as mobile telephones spread across the world. In 2005, mobile penetration in the developed world was over three times higher than in developing countries (82% versus 23%). By 2015, this gap has closed significantly with mobile penetration at 121% in developed countries and 92% in developing countries. While larger gaps remain in broadband Internet (mobile and fixed) subscriptions, higher growth rates for both technologies in developing countries point to the same conclusion: overall, developing countries are catching up with developed countries in a range of ICTs.

According to Cisco’s 2015 Visual Networking Index (VNI), we now stand at a clear digital tipping point – by 2019, the number of people connecting to Internet will be 3.9 billion, reaching over 51% of the global population. As over one billion additional people connect to the Internet over the next five years, over 10.2 billion new devices (smartphones, tablets, sensors, etc.) will come online at the same time, growing from 14.2 billion in 2014 to 24.4 billion in 2019; and 10.5 billion of these will be M2M.

This ‘good news’ story, however, masks an emerging digital divide in this next phase of the Internet, which will be characterized by a growing number of connected devices of all kinds. In North America, there were 6.1 networked devices per capita in 2014 with a forecast of 11.6 devices per capita by 2019 (a CAGR of 14% in total devices). In Western Europe, the number will be 8.2 devices per capita by 2019, up from 4.4 devices per capita in 2014 (13% CAGR). However, in Latin America, there were only 2.0 connected devices per capita in 2014, with an expected rise to 2.9 by 2019 (9% CAGR), and in the Middle East/Africa region, growth is expected to be similarly slow growing from only 1.0 connected device per capita in 2014 to 1.4 by 2019 (9% CAGR as well).

The Emerging Digital Divide

The contrast across regions in M2M devices is even more stark. While globally, over 43% of all devices in 2019 will be M2M, advanced regions of the world are ahead of the curve. In the UK, M2M devices will account for 48% of all devices by 2019. In Australia the share will be 54%; the US it will be 58%; Japan 68% and in Korea, 72%. By comparison, in most developing countries the number of M2M devices are still at a nascent level: In India, only 13% of all devices by 2019 will be M2M, across Africa and Middle East, the share will be only 17%, in South Africa it will 22%; Brazil and Mexico will be 32%.

Why does this matter? While developing countries are catching up in basic ICT penetration, this growing gap in connected devices and M2M connections may point to big differences in how societies are utilizing, and benefitting from, the Internet and the next generation of the digital transition. For example, network effects and externalities that multiply the impacts of ICTs require minimum adoption thresholds before those impacts begin to materialize, and the greater the intensity of ICT use, the greater the impacts on economic growth (even beyond saturation levels of penetration).

It is important to recognize the global success in advancing the adoption of ICTs, particularly telephones and the Internet, around the world. Private sector telecom investment supported by smart government policies fostered infrastructure development to the extent that now over 90% of the world’s population is covered by mobile telephone signals.

We must continue the push for greater access and adoption of ICTs among lower-income groups to further accelerate income gains at the base of the economic pyramid. Policy action should focus on preventing and bridging this emerging digital divide in M2M and connected devices, achieved through partnership and private sector investment, enabled by conducive business environments and crafted by pro-innovation and pro-investment government policies. As the 2015 State of Broadband report highlights, more needs to be done to accelerate the adoption of ICTs and total connected devices and close the gaps between developed and developing countries, as well as high-income and low-income populations.

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A Celebration of STEM Mentoring – the Million Women Mentors Descend on Washington

When it comes to encouraging more students to enter the fields that make up STEM –Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – American faces twin crises. First, how do we meet the looming 1.8 million shortfall in the number of workers who have the technical skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow? And second, how do we ensure that more women and girls go into these fields?

The good news is that there are some true leaders committed to solving this problem. Among them, Cisco’s own Liz Centoni, Vice President, Engineering Strategy & Portfolio Planning and Chief of Staff for Chief Development Officer. Liz sits in the part of Cisco that innovates and develops our new technologies, products and solutions, the core of Cisco’s engineering team. Liz is an active mentor and supports under-represented minorities. At Cisco, she launched a “Women in Engineering Leadership” forum, and is the Global Executive Sponsor for Cisco’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a recipient of the YWCA (Silicon Valley) 2015 TWIN Award, and CloudNOW’s “Top 10 Women in Cloud-2015.”

That’s why this week Liz will be honored by one of our nation’s most notable organizations that is trying to make mentoring a national priority – Million Women Mentors.

The Million Women Mentors organization is dedicated to advancing the education of girls and women in STEM. Today, Million Women Mentors is meeting at the National Press Club for an annual summit and gala. Cisco is proud to be both a sponsor and participant. www.millionwomenmentors.org

Cisco believes passionately in STEM mentoring as a tool that can help advance diversity in the STEM fields, a cause we wholeheartedly support. We are especially honored to be among the group – public and private – scheduled to receive awards tonight. We have committed to the US2020 pledge – that 20 percent of our workforce will mentor students in STEM annually by 2020. We have also significant programs in place to train students to meet the needs of the 21st century economy, as well as to increase the number of students of all backgrounds to go into STEM.

We’re proud to share the stage with other corporate leaders and elected officials, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

As Patrice D’Eramo, Cisco’s vice president of America’s Field Marketing and a one of the Vice Chairs of the MWM told me: “Each of us has an obligation to extend a hand mentoring the next generation of leaders,” she said. “We want to open the door of opportunity to all students – and especially girls and young women– to be aware of STEM careers and to be excited by the possibilities that are out there. My career in tech is living proof what happens when you are mentored, in STEM, at a young age.”

I could not agree more.

Congratulations to Liz, other awardees, and the Million Women Mentor’s organization on this day of celebration. The work they do truly makes a difference.

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