Lucy Sanders - National Center for Women & Information Technology
CEO and Co-Founder
Lucy Sanders is CEO and Co-founder of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a consortium of more than 300 corporations, universities, and non-profits working to increase the participation of girls/women in computing. Lucy has an extensive industry background, having worked in R&D executive positions at AT&T/Lucent and Avaya Bell Labs. In 1996, Lucy was awarded the Bell Labs Fellow Award, the highest technical accomplishment bestowed at the company. A recipient of numerous other awards, she recently was named by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on their Innovation Advisory Board.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
Our global economy demands the specific skills embodied in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to remain innovative and competitive. Companies seek these skills across the economy as they look to expand their workforces. Yet the United States is falling behind in this area at all education levels, and it’s critical that we address it; we must create those skills that will in turn create the products and industries of the future.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Senior leaders need to speak up loudly and often about the importance of STEM to our country. They also need to drive their beliefs into the accountability systems of their organizations, assuring that STEM workers are retained and advanced once they enter the workforce. This is especially important for those under-represented in the STEM disciplines.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
My current work centers on increasing girls’ and women’s participation in computing, a critical STEM discipline, and one in which they are significantly under-represented. At NCWIT, we have found to accomplish our goals that we need to work in every part of the U.S. computing ecosystem: at the K-12 level, we must make sure every student has access to rigorous and relevant computing education before leaving high school, and we need to especially encourage girls to participate and persist into post-secondary education; at the post-secondary level we need to develop innovative recruiting strategies and degree paths; at the corporate level we must work harder to retain technical women, who leave their technical jobs at a rate of 56% by mid career (twice the quit rate of technical men).
What about STEM gives you passion?
Right now, women are not helping invent the technology upon which our world increasingly depends. I can’t wait to see what innovative products and services they will create, once they have critical mass on technical design teams and in technical leadership positions.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
In addition to my work at NCWIT, I am most proud of my technical accomplishments, including leading efforts in the early commercialization of Voice over IP (VOIP) and multi-media communication.