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Software at Intel is Making a Difference in Gender Equality—And We Can All Take Part

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At Intel, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. I strongly believe that we need more women and under-represented minorities in technical roles, both at Intel and across the high-tech industry.  Intel’s commitment is to be an inclusive, great place to work—and it is good for our company as there is real business merit in having a diverse group of people work together to develop better, more relevant products for our customers.

I’ve been at Intel for over 20 years, and during that time, I have become increasingly aware of how challenging it is to ensure we hire and retain a diverse workforce.  That is why I have made it a priority in my career to make a difference in this area while at Intel.

Here are three areas I believe we should all focus on:

1.    Provide Technology Training

Intel has several programs designed to empower women and girls around the world. By working to close the gender gap in technology, engineering, and computing, we can help inspire more girls and women around the world to become creators and innovators.

Here is a success story about Caroline Wambui, a 16-year-old from Nairobi, Kenya, who was empowered by her teacher who participated in the Intel® She Will Connect Program. Caroline’s teacher was motivated to introduce coding to her students, and brought a team of Intel employees in to teach her class how to use the Intel® XDK developer tool. Caroline used this newfound knowledge to create an organ donor application that connects transplant patients with potential donors. This app is being piloted and tested by a number of hospitals in Kenya today.  Caroline is a young girl who recognized a problem she wanted to solve, and she used developer tools from our Software and Services Group to solve it. I am very proud of the impact girls like Caroline can make by using our software tools to solve real-world issues.

Attendees of the Mobile Application Coding Camp for Girls in Thailand Attendees of the Mobile Application Coding Camp for Girls in Thailand

Intel also has programs to introduce young girls to coding. For example, Intel initiated a coding camp that helped girls in Thailand to learn about basic concepts of application design and coding—including user interface development, interaction design, and mobile experiences. The camp also helped these girls gain the confidence they needed to pursue a career in technology.

Early access to tools, education, and mentoring can build a pipeline of talent that can close the gender gap in the technology industry. But that is just the beginning.

2.    Ensure Safe, Inclusive Environments

Once we improve the diversity pipeline, we need to create a positive environment for women—a great place to work. That is why I am proud of Intel’s involvement in Hack Harassment—it is an excellent organization with a mission to provide safer, more inclusive online experiences.

I got involved in harassment issues—particularly those in online gaming—a few years ago. When I learned about the levels of harassment of women gamers, developers, journalists, and their advocates, I was shocked. When you see what’s actually happening, it’s appalling. To raise awareness in our development community about this issue, I participated in a panel discussion with several other subject matter experts on the topic at the 2016 Intel Developer Forum—you can watch the video here.


I also met with gamer, livestreamer, and content creator Anne Munition at CES (and again at GDC) to talk about harassment. Based on her recent experience, she told me, “I’ve seen an upward trend in the inclusivity for women in gaming. There are a lot of companies that are working to improve the landscape.”

I am happy to say Intel was one of 30 tech companies that took a diversity and inclusion pledge organized by the White House last year. The pledge is to “implement and publish company-specific goals to recruit, retain, and advance diverse technology talent.”

Ensuring safe, constructive environments for women will help keep them in the technology industry. But we must do more to make it easier for them to move forward—and upward.

3.    Supporting Women in the Industry

WiBD-first-event-at-IDF-1024x573.png The first Women in Big Data event at the Intel Developer Forum

Professional organizations can provide excellent resources and support for gender equality in the workplace. For example, the Women in Big Data (WiBD) initiative, founded by Intel Technology-Enabling Director Shala Arshi along with members of the Intel Software leadership team, now has over 1,800 members around the world.

Intel is also dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion across open source communities. This includes active participation in the Women of OpenStack group as well as investment in research, analysis, and diversity internships, co-leadership of the OpenStack Mentoring Program, and sponsorship of speed mentoring workshops. In the Linux community, Intel participates in the Women of Open Source group, which supports article and speakership programs and is in the process of introducing a cross-community diversity council.

At Intel, we continue to expand the GROW program, an enterprise-wide movement that promotes a growth mindset as well as inclusion. I appreciate all the work—both inside and outside of our organization—that is being done to ensure equal opportunities for all.

Taking Action

To have a truly diverse and included workforce you also need to change who you rely on as your "go to" people. We all have natural tendencies to work with people with same likes, personalities, and approaches. The biggest challenge is changing that behavior and truly listening and applying the recommendations of people who have diverse backgrounds and opinions.  It also means getting to know more about each person as an individual and the unique perspective they can bring—and building that advocacy, one person at a time.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and the achievements of women throughout the month of March, I hope you will join me as an advocate for change.  By working together, we can encourage more girls and women to pursue careers in technology, put an end to online harassment, and increase the representation and opportunities for women. As a leader, I am committed to driving this within Intel and beyond. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. By addressing these challenges, we can ensure success for all of us, while opening up a new era of innovation.
About the Author
Douglas W. Fisher is senior vice president and general manager of the Software and Services Group (SSG) for Intel Corporation. He is responsible for software and software development at Intel worldwide, with the goal of enhancing computing and connectivity for Intel® architecture across the software ecosystem and providing end-to-end value from the device edge to the data center.