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Diversity in Resentment and Liberation from Guilt

January 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm PST

Padmasree Warrior, our Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, shared some thoughts earlier this month on women in technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Padma joined Google’s Marissa Mayer, Hunch’s Caterina Fake and CNET’s Lindsey Turrentine on this CNET sponsored panel.  The takeaways are for both men and women:

Padma said that liberation from guilt is an important choice to make.  Earlier in her career, she felt guilty at work about not being with her child but she also felt guilty when she had to miss customer meetings to be home with her child.  Regardless of the decision, she learned not to be guilty about the decision.

In this day and age, you can be yourself at work.  Caterina Fake commented that in the 80s, businesswomen adopted the “Sigourney Weaver” uniform of heels, suits with shoulder pads and speaking in a low voice.  Now, you no longer need to conform to a single image to be taken seriously.  Marissa had a great line: “you can wear ruffles… or you can be a jock”

Burnout was a meaty topic that Marissa Mayer introduced by saying that working long hours is not what causes burnout. Read More »

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The Iron Lady and the Glass Ceiling

Wherever you live, the chances are that you will have seen posters in your town or city of a familiar woman’s face. The sharply tailored navy blue suit, immaculately coiffed hair piled high, power pearls, and that anthracite gaze that crosses three decades and still has the power to pin you to the spot.

“The Iron Lady,” Phyllida Law’s biopic of Margaret Thatcher, hit the box offices all over the world earlier this year.  Thatcher’s pulling power, the enduring legend of the UK’s first female prime minister, is still so strong that the Iron Lady is causing queues to form at cinemas, hitting the headlines and being debated by the media all over the place.

Nicknames are inevitable, especially in public figures, and whilst they provide a handy snapshot of how an individual is perceived, they also reveal so much about stereotyped thinking and preconceptions that condition the way we think.

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A human working culture

We’ve all done it, squeezed a meeting into a colleague’s last remaining gap for a lunch break, or set a conference call for an unsociable hour. Yet we’ve also all been the victim of such logistical moves. Because the problem is, in a mega-busy global working environment like ours, we increasingly accept that this sort of thing is normal and needs to happen, so we can all get everything done.

And perhaps at times it does, but not without considering if there are other possible options and not without asking.

Politeness aside, how many of us properly acknowledge the priorities each other has outside of the office, those priorities which help shape the people we are and often conflict with the demands of our working lives. How many of us raise an eyebrow at the person who leaves to go to the gym, or the parent who goes because of childcare issues. We even sometimes fail to acknowledge the shame of a colleague missing a family celebration because of work demands.

These issues comes up a lot but I think we could all be part of changing what is regularly seen as acceptable and just the norm. We could all speak up when meetings are set at anti-social times; share our human selves as well as our work selves to create a human culture where other commitments are given due credit, time and appreciation.

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In lieu of a twin

I love using Open Minds to profile remarkable people whose achievements can’t help but enthrall us all. Often they’re people with backgrounds or characteristics that mean they’re wrongly overlooked, or certainly not nurtured to their full potential.

Not so, the incredible 9-year old twins, Peter and Paula Imafidon, who are the youngest children in the highest-achieving family in the history of Great Britain’s education system. They made history as the youngest students ever to enter high school and astounded veteran experts of academia when they became the youngest ever to pass the University of Cambridge’s advanced mathematics exam.

With a set of older super-gifted siblings in the Imafidon family too, it’s not surprising they’ve been asked if they share a ‘genius gene’. “Not so”, came the reply of Chris Imafidon, the children’s father. He credits his children’s success to the UK’s Excellence in Education program for disadvantaged inner city children.

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Disability and Technical Expertise from Cisco interns

December 2, 2011 at 7:51 am PST

“When I first got here, the [intern] orientation was talking about all business stuff…supply chain..and I’m a computer science major, and I was thinking, uh-oh, I’m in the wrong place.” Kelley Duran said as we settled down to talk about her internship here at Cisco.  Her classmate Samuel Sandoval had the same reaction: Honestly, I thought I was in [the] wrong group since I’m in IT [information technology]”

Internships are a great way for students to make the connection between their studies and the business world.  Combining education with practical application through internships means an easier transition into the workforce after college.  Even better is when education and personal expertise are both channeled into the right internship.

Kelley and Samuel are studying Computer Science and Information Technology respectively at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I sat down with Kelley, Samuel and their Cisco mentor Shraddha Chaplot to get their thoughts on how to create a successful internship program for college students with hearing disabilities.


Samuel Sandoval, Shraddha Chaplot and Kelley Duran spell Cisco in American Sign Language at Cisco Headquarters

Internship Projects

Samuel and Kelley interned for 11 weeks in Cisco’s Software Engineering Accessibility team.  The Cisco Accessibility team is focused on ensuring Cisco products are accessible and usable by people with disabilities, whether by design or through compatible use with assistive technology.

Samuel worked as a lead developer for real time text chat on the Read More »

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