2019 NCWIT Summit: Cheryl D. Calhoun, PhD – Gender Diversity

During the 2019 NCWIT Summit, we sat down with several plenary speakers, workshop presenters, and other change leaders from the NCWIT community to discuss their perspectives on valuing diversity, changing systems (as opposed to “fixing” underrepresented individuals), recognizing bias, and more. The end result was a series of short videos that not only captures what drives these change leaders in their inclusion efforts, but also highlights research-based recommendations from the vast collection of NCWIT resources.

In this video, Dr. Cheryl Calhoun reflects on her early experiences in the tech industry, when she was often the only woman in the classroom or the work space. She urges educators to help women students cultivate the confidence to be themselves and do their best, “even if they don’t see a lot of other women in the room.” For a summary of the research on why gender-diverse teams are good for business, download the NCWIT report, “What is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance?”


DR. CHERYL CALHOUN: So I started my career in information technology in 1986 as I came out of an undergraduate; I started in the field of computer networking, was one of the very first Novell administrators certified in the state of Florida, the only female in any class I ever walked into. I could walk into spaces and be the only one in that space. And I think that’s what we need to provide to other women as we move along, that confidence that even if they don’t see a lot of other women in the room, they still belong in that space. They can still walk in that space and they can be themselves in that space. They don’t have to adapt to a particular culture that doesn’t match for themselves. They can be themselves and still succeed in that space. And I think that’s the thing that we need to get out there.

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