In the last few months, you’ve seen stories on the Rackspace Blog about our involvement with organizations and groups like Black Girls Code that encourage young women to pursue careers in programming and software development. We’ve also highlighted our work with Lean In and encouraged getting more women involved with OpenStack. And over on our Developer Blog, we told you about how OpenStack was getting involved with the Grace Hopper Foundation.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which recognizes women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields who we see as heroes. In honor of this special day, I want to talk about a number of exciting things Rackspace has done (and is doing) to honor some of our brightest female Rackers while engaging young women to pursue careers in tech. To do that, I want to focus on the work of one exceptional Racker: Gigi Geoffrion.
My interest in Rackspace’s diversity and empowerment programs began last March when I began interviewing women around Rackspace for a video series to be posted to our employment branding site, RackerTalent. During those interviews, I had the pleasure to sit down and speak with Gigi.
Gigi has worked in the information technology field for more than two decades. While she began her career in Technical Support for a company creating video drivers, she quickly moved to Quality Management where she has been ever since. At Rackspace, she has developed as a well-loved and effective leader, now serving as Vice President of Quality Engineering. In that role, Gigi oversees Quality and Security Engineering, Change and Release Management and Project/Program Management. It’s an honor to have someone of Gigi’s tremendous intelligence and charisma in an executive role.
Since that interview, I’ve had the chance to follow up with Gigi. Her great work at the company doesn’t begin to describe her level of involvement in empowering women in the IT industry as a whole. With her support in the employee resource group, POWER (the Professional Organization of Women Empowered at Rackspace), Rackspace has been able to partner with San Antonio Women in Information Technology (SAWIT) and Texas A&M to offer San Antonio’s first ever Aspirations award, offered through NCWIT’s Aspirations Program. This honor recognizes young women in high school for their research, achievement or interest in technology. Many of these budding technologists go on to intern at companies like Google and (soon we hope) Rackspace. The San Antonio Aspirations award will be given out at our San Antonio headquarters (aka The Castle) in January 2014, so stay tuned for more information. This is just one example of how having role models like Gigi can positively influence the community at large.
As we approach the time when Microsoft has predicted there will be more IT jobs than there are trained people – men or women – to fill them, we must turn our focus to training the next generation of information technology leaders. Now, more than ever, it’s important to focus on diversity and empowerment-based initiatives to bring historically underserved demographics like young women into the information technology field.
Rackspace offers support for empowering women in IT at each of its global offices, and is proud to support the efforts of Gigi and all other Rackers who make amazing initiatives like POWER, Lean In and Aspirations so successful.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day, Internet!