I can humbly say that I can now understand, embrace and apply the phrase that my grandfather often spoke, “Son, I’ve lived a little.  Trust your eyes more than your ears.   May the HOPE experienced by your ears be the reality of your eyes.”

I, one day HOPE that the reality of equality and opportunity for all people regardless of culture, socioeconomic status, gender or sexual orientation is achieved in my lifetime.

So, what does all this HOPE stuff have to do with IoT, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Manufacturing, Innovation and Women? Stem Women

Well, let me explain……….

Here’s some metrics you may be familiar with:

  • IoT global value opportunity estimated to be over $8 Trillion
  • Over the next 10 years it is estimated there will be two million unfilled STEM related jobs globally
  • 82 percent of American manufacturers surveyed reported a moderate or severe shortage of high-skilled workers
  • Of the 52% — of women who earn STEM degrees, 52% leave the field within 10 years.

2014 IoT World Forum

…. But HOPE descended upon the Windy City of Chicago last week in the form of The Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum sponsored by Cisco Systems and its partners, including Rockwell Automation and Panduit.  The forum brought over 1700 thought leaders, executives, and creators representing companies and entities in the public, private, and education sectors

The event served as a platform and opportunity for participants to leverage the mindshare, perspectives and experiences from their peers.  The objective of the event was to evolve the IoT conversations FROM determining the IoT value opportunity TO “how” value can/is being realized from the IoT paradigm.  The HOPE is to leverage IoT to bring real and positive disruptive change to all sectors of society including education, finance, politics, environment, education, food, business and technology.  This can only be achieved by soliciting, including and welcoming a diversity of perspectives obtained from both women and minorities.

The 52% Opportunity

The event agenda was well put together with a broad range of diverse and engaging IoT topics being presented and discussed.  One of those agenda topics was entitled, “Women in IoT (STEM and the Lost 52%)

The panel for this discussion was made up of very intelligent, dynamic and accomplished women whom have excelled in their careers by pursing and completing STEM degrees.  The session dialogue was engaging; and although the trends and metrics indicate that women and minorities are decreasingly not pursuing STEM majors, specifically Computer Science and Engineering majors, there was a spirit of HOPE (there goes that word again) in the room.

The interesting reality of this particular session was that it was sparsely attended.  Approximately 25 people filled a room that could accommodate approximately 200 seats.  A more sobering reality was that only 5 men attended the session.

BUT wait, what about the work force shortages, need for innovation, and the promise of IoT!?!  Why aren’t there more efforts to attract, recruit and retain employees from the entire pool of capable and qualified individuals to fill this shortage?  How does an exodus of 52% continue to go unnoticed, without question, by business leaders who achieve success by staying abreast of trends and monitoring metrics?

There are wonderful and passionate people, organizations and companies realizing that the HOPE of this inclusion is the only path to realizing the promise that IoT affords.  BUT we can only achieve this together. Women and men from all different cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds that historically have not been included in STEM careers must be provided the opportunity to participate.

Can we “STEM” the tide and retain the talented 52%, as well as, recruit, retain and welcome more women and minorities to realize the promise of IoT? After experiencing this year’s forum my ears are convinced that we can. I will never relinquish HOPE.


Kevin Davenport

Cisco’s Global Solutions Manager

Industrial Intelligence