Annual WITI Summit taps into awareness, frustration over lack of women in IT

WITI Hall of Fame inductees to be honored; Oscar winner Patricia Arquette to speak with a purpose

Increased awareness of the lack of women in the IT workforce and in technology leadership positions has not been lost on the organizer of next week's Women in Technology Summit in San Jose. Women in Technology International (WITI) is looking to leverage rising interest in this issue to attract more people to attend its annual event, either in person or online.

WITI was founded in 1989 by Carolyn Leighton in recognition that women back then weren't being paid or treated fairly in the technology industry. And while some would say things have come a long way, the percentage of women in the US IT workforce has actually been on the decline since around then.

The marketing of the Women in Technology Summit is accentuating the positive however, trying to shine a light on the accomplishments women have made in the industry. Among those women are five new inductees into the WITI Hall of Fame, which was established in 1996:

  • Cheemin Bo-Linn, CEO of global business consulting group Peritus Partners and an innovator in the area of getting young girls into the technology field via such programs as TechGYRLS.
  • Nichelle Nichols, best known for her portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura on the USS Enterprise in the TV show Star Trek but also a strong advocate of diversity at NASA.
  • Pam Parisian, CIO of AT&T and a longtime telecom executive.
  • Sheryl Root, a software management consulting professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Silicon Valley and CEO of consultancy RootAnalysis.
  • Marie Wieck, GM of Middleware at IBM, a company she has worked at for 30-plus years.

Speakers at the event will include Academy Award winner ("Boyhood") Patricia Arquette, whose talk will be titled "Emboldening Women To Believe They Have A Purpose. " Arquette, who stars on TV's CSI:Cyber as a psychologist, garnered attention by using her Academy Award acceptance speech to address the topic of equal rights for women.

Other speakers include IBM's Linda Bernardi and Sandy Carter, as well as Gartner's Tiffani Bova. Internet of things, big data and career topics will be among the session fodder at the Summit.

The winners of WITI's first hackathon, run with support from IBM and Intel, will also be revealed at the conference.

Even if you're not in Silicon Valley for the event you can catch it online via a live stream: http://witi.com/summitlive

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