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Evolving Themes of Women in Technology

Back in December 2010, anne.hardy/blog, Vice President, Technology Strategy, SAP Labs and I presented a TedxTalk in Palo Alto on “Participatory Collaboration” in the context of innovation and innovation projects.

For many years now, Anne Hardy has been in the vanguard of a movement that motivates and promotes women in what is commonly called STEM topics – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

As an example, Anne created educational opportunities for young women and teens in a Bay Area event called Dare 2 B Digital.  Anne is a longtime active member of organizations celebrating women in Technology, such as Grace Hopper, WITI (Women in Technology International) and Anita Borg Institute (see Anne Hardy’s bio ).

While amplifying the voice of women in technology and promoting the entry of more women into the technology sector are core themes that Anne and I share a passion for, we both agree that changing the gender quotient isn’t only about advocating for fuller participation of women in the technology industry as a necessary demographic change, despite our keen interest in WIT (Women in Technology) agendas. 

We’ve come to think about the topic of women in technology from the context of the business value of such inclusion of a broader spectrum of professionals in the innovation process.  In the spirit of meritocracy, we see inclusion as more of a business imperative, a differentiator and a competitive edge rather than the act of correcting an existing social imbalance or a checkmark on some perfunctory and perhaps even arbitrary quota list.

SAP Community Evolution of Inclusion

Back in 2006 when I helped launch the Business Process Expert Community and again in 2008 when I created the first Process Design Slam, I had dreamed of creating collaborations, both virtual and physical at the SAP TechEd events and in the SAP Community Network, where process designers, enterprise architects and business owners would collaborate in a rich exchange of ideas, skills, and practical solutions with software developers, technical consultants and user experience experts.  The idea was that an inclusive and diverse design and development environment would produce better and more viable products and foster superior innovative outcomes and solutions.

With the additions of the Business Process Expert (BPX) Community and the Business Analytics (BA) Community, the original SAP Developer Network (SDN) evolved into an inclusive environment called the SAP Community Network (SCN).  Last year’s Innovation Weekend and this year’s ensuing Innojams are outcomes of that “dream” of including a broader spectrum of people skills, mapped to business cases, enabled by new technologies.  Anne Hardy’s team took ownership of these participatory collaboration activities and have proliferated them around the world.

Women in Technology @Sap

In April of 2011, at one of the Hana Olympics in Palo Alto, showcasing employee collaborations using HANA, mentorette Karin Tillotson, Anne Hardy and I met with EVP Sanjay Poonen to discuss the viability of creating a special event at SAP TechEd 2011 for an emerging community group : Women in Technology@SAP.  Sanjay voiced his approval and assured us of his strong support of such initiatives.

Over the past few months, our thinking has evolved further.

Rather than isolate our efforts in an exclusive environment of “Women Only”, we have decided to expand the activities of Women in Technology @Sap to create real collaboration opportunities that are inclusive and diverse.

To that end we will be announcing the launch of a new SAP TechEd event called: Embracing Inclusion- Driving Innovation which will include a strong focus on Design Thinking (introduced to us by SAP Design Consultant and Service Innovation Program Manager: Heike van Geel)  and focusing on inclusiveness to drive innovation. In addition we will be partnering with the Americas SAP User Group (ASUG)  and ASUG’s CEO Bridgette Chambers to provide a virtual environment for business women.

More details about the event: Embracing Inclusion-Driving Innovation to be provided shortly, including agenda, dates and registration information.

The event is free to all SAP TechEd attendees and the first one will be held in SAP TechEd Las Vegas on Wednesday September 14th from 6:45 PM to midnight.