As part of Brocade’s Women in Networking (WIN) initiative, I am proud to highlight two events this past week aimed at inspiring and influencing young ladies in the community to continue pursuing education, especially in the fields of math, science and technology.
The first event was in partnership with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) Women & Girls Summit on February 11th. The goal of the summit was to empower young ladies by exposing them to private and public sector women role models and to energize these students about their education. The Summit, held at Shirakawa School in San Jose’s Franklin-McKinley School District, was ideal for women executives and public sector leaders to engage with 5th-8th grade young ladies from one of our Valley’s schools, especially on topics such as science, math, technology and community engagement.
Lisa Loscavio, Vice President of Brocade’s Supply Chain Operations, engaged with the young ladies as a panelist and classroom speaker sharing her experiences growing up and how education played a role in her success. Other Brocadians interacted with the young ladies through informational interviews, people bingo and a build-a-company activity during lunch.
Other speakers included: the Honorable Jacqueline Duong, a Superior Court Judge in San Jose who gave an inspirational speech about how she overcame obstacles as a youth which only made her stronger and helped her get to where she is today.
The second event which was on the following day, Brocade co-sponsored the Dare 2B Digital Conference. Held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, this conference was a full day event for 450 7th to 10th grade young ladies and their parents to learn about careers in technology. Other well known Silicon Valley companies who participated were HP, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Mozilla, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and eBay.
This was truly an inspirational event. The opening plenary, Susan Zwinger, Vice President of Global Systems Technical Support Center at Oracle, emphasized that in her experience there is no glass ceiling; there are no heights a woman can’t achieve if she believes in herself. I couldn’t agree more with Susan. Equally as inspiring was the workshop that Brocade hosted on digital communications.
Our goal was to help these 450 young ladies understand how to better communicate in this information age and inspire them to think of what technology their generation will invent to communicate in the future. With the help of Brocade volunteers, and in partnership with Citizen Schools, a nonprofit that mentors middle school students, our activity had the young ladies communicating with each other via Twitter, IM, and email. The young ladies were split into pairs, with one partner as the Communicator, and the other as the Receiver, then placed in separate rooms with computers. The Communicator had to describe a picture, using the communication technology assigned to them. The Receiver had to draw the picture described by the Communicator. At the end of this 25-minute activity, the partners re-grouped to see how the sketched picture turned out compared to the real picture and discuss what they learned. Here are some of their insights:
“I learned a lot, especially that when someone is communicating, they might assume the other person knows something but they might not, so it can be confusing.”
“What I learned today was that even with all the different communications that technology makes possible, there can still be miscommunications.”
“I learned that different forms of communication are important—both technology, but also spoken/verbal communication.”
So, what did I learn through these two amazing events? Well, I was reminded just how fortunate our young ladies of today are to have so many career opportunities at their fingertips. I also realized that these young ladies often just need the proper encouragement from family, friends, teachers and other role models to pursue such opportunities. Finally, I learned that if these young ladies are any indication of our future then, indeed, our future is looking very bright and we must all continue to do what we can to encourage our youths to excel in their studies, particularly in the areas of science and math.