Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chic and Geek

A beautiful blue eyed blonde and a quiet Indian man walk into an office.  I know this sounds like the beginning of a joke or a limerick, but please bear with me... The CEO and CIO greets them both with a smile and a handshake.  They start talking about the vision of their company, and what keeps them up at night as they work to achieve it.  As they start to discuss their internal network, the focus of their eyes goes immediately towards the young man.  They get in the weeds talking about stackable 3750 chassis switches, backwards wireless compatibility of  802.11 N vs G, ASA Security devices, and redundant routing within their network... as his eyes glaze over.  ::Gulp:: Clears throat:: "Ahem, great questions" he says with a sheepish grin, "you might want to ask our engineer".  She smiles proudly.

This is not a made up tale ladies and gentleman, this is a true story of the accounts of one of my dear friends, and one of the few, and proud, female Cisco Engineers.  She and I were in the ASR/ASE program together over 8 years ago at Cisco for technical boot camp into the world of Sales and Technology.  For over eight years she has been a proud engineer with Cisco.  Often upon walking into a board room, or cold call unfortunately,  without knowing roles they automatically default to her male counterpart to answer the tough technical questions.  Little do they know they are about to be schooled by the elite knowledge and expertise of what I affectionately call, a chic geek.

In my last blog Talk Nerdy to Me I discussed my personal story and some interesting stats of women in IT.  I have been nominated for the esteemed honor of being considered one of the SMB150. Shameless plug-  I would love if you could Please Vote for Me Here :).  I could not possibly be any happier, as I have extreme respect and admiration for SMB Nation, and all of the Nominees.  For those who don't know (get out from under a rock! hehe) SMB Nation is a publishing and events company, targeted at the small and medium business (SMB) channel partner/reseller/consulting/VAR community. SMB Nation spreads the knowledge of SMB technology trends through its conferences, books, SMB PC magazine, online services, and world-wide seminars, workshops and accredited.  They are truly a fabulous organization!

Unfortunately, I was remiss to see the stats on how out numbered women were in the competition?  Is that a reflection of women in IT over all?   It inspired me to do some research, but to be fair I wanted to expand to all top tech competitions.  A clear and evident truth is women are outnumbered in the techie world, those facts and figures were illustrated by the lack of representation of women, and the decline in the past decade- details and stats in Talk Nerdy To Me).  However the question arises, are the ladies who ARE involved fairly represented?  Do women get an equal shot at leadership positions (not BECAUSE they are a woman, but in spite of it)?  We can cast opinions and speculations but let's let the facts speak for themselves.

I looked at four overall, but the first one I looked at of course was SMB150, and found the following stats for this year:

It appears ladies, we are substantially out numbered in every single category. This year out of 328 nominees 32 were women, about 10%.   I was compelled to look at the previous year, I could not see all of the nominees but out of 150 winners, 18 women were represented, just over 11%. Was this a common trend?  I needed to dig deeper...

Next I looked as MSPmentor 250, the annual look at the executives, entrepreneurs, experts, coaches and community leaders shaping the global managed services market.  MSPmentor, produced by Nine Lives Media, defines themselves as "the ultimate guide to managed services and the leading global destination for managed service providers".  A well respected collection of media reporters, who self admittedly "cover the news, the gossip and the speculation — responsibly" with a focus on the entire MSP community.  I personally am a huge fan of all they have done in our IT Community, and an avid reader.
I searched hopefully through the 52 pages of esteemed names and winners.  You can imagine my surprise when I realized out of 250 people, out of all of the vast categories, there were 18 women represented as a leader in the MSP global managed service arena in 2011, approximately 7%.  That was a slight improvement from the 14 listed  in 2010- approximately 5% of the winners. I asked the obvious questions, Are women not active in this community?  Do women not make leadership positions to obtain this viability?  This calls for some more research I thought.

The quest to find successful women who were recognized went north of the border. CDN Computer Dealer News, eh ;)  Each year CDN, Canada's No. 1 IT channel publication, selects the leading executives and one news trend that made the biggest impact on the channel. Out of the top 25 news makers in 2010- 4 were women, 20 men, and there was 1 issue (but at 16% that is the highest thus far).  In 2011  they raised in the categories of men and issues:  with two men on one slide, they squeezed in one extra bonus gentleman, and went up to 2 issues.  Unfortunately, only 3 women made the list (down one from the year before), however compared to the other statistics, that is still high at 12%.  In defense of CDN, the number one news maker, and the person who got this cover was in fact a woman!  Huge congratulations to Leyland Brown of HP Canada and for CDN to recognize her incredible achievements!
Women managed to go down in a year over year analysis

I wasn't going to give up hope, there had to be some more ladies somewhere out there.  The search continued with the CRN Channel Chiefs for 2012.  CRN is considered one of the top news sources for solution providers and the IT channel, providing up-to-date technology news, IT vendor and product reviews, channel partners.  Out of 250 Channel Executives, 32 fantastic ladies were represented (13%) , a slight raise compared to 29 represented in 2011 (12%).   Of course, the statistics would dig to a deeper issue, why are there not more women channel chiefs?  If there were, I am sure they would be recognized fairly by all of the respective parties.  
In fact, I  am happy to report that CRN saw an opportunity to highlight what they deemed the Power 100: The Most Powerful Women of The Channel.  Gathered from the ranks of CRN's annual Women of the Channel, the Power 100 spotlights 100 female executives who stand out as driving forces in their respective companies and in the industry as a whole, providing the insight and influence that lead to channel success.  I am very proud that they took time to seek out 100 talented, intelligent, and successful contributing women in the Channel.  Kudos to them and all of the winners!

The facts are what they are, and my call to action is for a change, a revolution if you will.   We cannot shoot the messengers, or blame the well deserving men who are in the industry; in fact I commend them and compliment them on their incredible savvy skills, and outstanding work in our IT Industry.  I  respect  and admire many of them, especially the incredible leaders and teams of SMBNation, MSP Mentor, CRN, and CDN.     I think however we have many talented women as well, and I just wish that there was more female representation, as we do make up half the population and on average appear to get 10% of the recognition.  The National Center for Women & Information Technology, showed female employment in the IT industry reached its high point in 1991, when women made up 36 percent of the industry's workforce. Since then, the number of technology jobs held by women has been on the decline. Unconscious bias, gender pay gaps, feelings of isolation, lack of role models and mentors, poor supervisory relationships and competing life responsibilities are all major contributing factors to the decline. 

Nearly 50 years after the modern women's movement began, the omission of women is fairly common, yet many people assume the battle for equality is largely over. Gloria Steinem is quoted as saying " Perfectly nice guys will say to me, 'You must be so happy you've won!'; and she retorts " 'But are you working for a woman?' And they look appalled.  The March 2012 Newsweek spotlights the top150 fearless women: symbols of strength. They report the allocation of power remains stunningly lopsided, from business and politics, to academia, law and religion (just watch the Republican debates to figure that one out- sorry I had too ;)).  Barnard College President Debora Spar stated at a White House Conference on urban economic development last month,  "We have fallen into...the 16 percent ghetto, which is that if you look at any sector be in aero-space engineering, Hollywood films, higher education, or Fortune 500 leading positions, women max out at roughly 16 percent....That is a crime, and is a waste of incredible talent". 

Although statistically, young women now earn more college and graduate degrees than men do, they soon fall behind professionally. In the book Women and Leadership, Deborah Rhode and Barbara Kellerman reported "In management women account for about a third of M.B.A. classes, but only 2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 6 percent of top earners, 8 percent of top leadership positions, and 16 percent of board directors and corporate officers".  These statistics would account for the lack of visibility and recognition, but how do we change that?

Have no fear...There is light at the end of the tunnel... and it's not a train! 

There are amazing organizations stepping up to inspire women in Technology.  I am a longstanding member of Women In Technology (WIN) and often give speeches in the hopes of inspiring young women.  I recently became a member of.  CompTIA's newest community: "Advancing Women in IT".  This Community is committed to empowering women with knowledge and skills necessary to help their pursuit of successful IT careers, as well as to inspire women to make the IT field their career choice. The group will serve as a vital information resource, providing mentorship and networking opportunities; developing member-driven initiatives and programs; and taking an active role in legislation involving women and careers.

"Women have realized many breakthroughs in the work place, but the truth is our progress has stalled in IT," said Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president, industry relations, CompTIA.  She continued, "As someone who has spent nearly my entire career in high tech industry, I'm acutely aware of the gender gap...CompTIA is committed to doing its part to raise awareness of the valuable role women can and do play in our industry and to affect change to bring more women into our ranks."

The CompTIA Advancing Women in IT Community launches with members in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa. Members include women currently working in the IT industry, women seeking IT careers and men who support the mission of diversifying the IT workforce.The community is led by chair Sandy Ashworth, global director of channel relations and warranty for Unisys Corporation, and vice chair Jean Mork Bredenson, president, SERVICE 800, Inc.  "Our goal is not only to provide 'how to' knowledge, but also be the conduit and people resource to give women the mentoring, networking and career path guidance needed to advance in or join in the IT industry," said Ashworth. 

It is my hope that through this awareness we can work together, men and women, side by side, to create, empower, and support the many talented and intelligent women in our industry.   Ladies, you inspire me each and every day, and I am proud to be in your company.  We may be fewer but we are just as strong, intelligent, capable, and ready and willing to make a difference. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Barbie!

                                                       "I'm a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World"
So I was reading my daily, "On this Day in History" and noticed a familiar face, and global icon... Barbie. It was on this day in 1959 that the first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City, my home sweet home.

In the time that has transpired since, there has been a large mix of controversy, condemnation, and admiration  for the buxom blonde beauty.  Despite the controversy, and sometimes criticism, sales of Barbie-related merchandise continue to soar, topping 1 billion dollars annually by 1993. Since 1959, more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world and Barbie is now a "bona fide global icon", with a world of admirers. The question is, who is Barbie? Where did she come from? Is she a positive role model? Or is she just a fun toy for young women, dreaming of where they will live,  what will they do, and who will they be when they grow up? 

At a whopping eleven inches tall (and I thought I was short ;)) and cascading blond hair she was the first mass produced toy doll in the United States with adult features, and a body to boot.  Barbie was  and created by a woman named Ruth Handler, who went on to co-found Mattel, Inc. with her hubby in 1945.  She dreamed up the idea because her young daughter began to ignore her baby dolls, and played more with paper dolls of adult women.  Ruth predicted there was a niche for a toy that would allow young women to imagine their future (and that would be a massive understatement  accurately considering the enormous and timeless scale of success).

I have often wondered, who was she made to look like?    It turns out, Barbie's appearance was modeled on a doll named Lilli, based on a German comic strip character. Originally marketed as a racy gag gift to adult men in tobacco shops, the Lilli doll surprisingly became extremely popular with children. Mattel bought the copyrights to Lilli and made its own version, which Handler named after her daughter, Barbara. Mattel became a  sponsorship of the "Mickey Mouse Club" TV program in 1955, and therefore, became the first toy company to broadcast commercials to children. They ingeniously used this medium to promote their new toy, and by 1961, the enormous consumer demand for the doll led Mattel to release a boyfriend for Barbie. Handler named him Ken, after her son, which is a bit creepy if you ask me naming the son and daughter as boy friend and girl friend :P . Barbie's best friend, Midge, came out in 1963; her little sister, Skipper, debuted the following year.

Like many beautiful and successful women, over the years Barbie generate huge buzz, and a lot of controversy!  On a positive note, many women saw Barbie as providing an alternative to traditional 1950s gender roles and image of Stepford wives. After all, the world was her oyster, she had a huge series of careers, from airline stewardess, doctor, pilot and astronaut to Olympic athlete and even U.S. presidential candidate. Perhaps even Barbie was ahead of her time!  Others however, thought Barbie's never-ending supply of designer outfits, cars and "Dream Houses" encouraged kids to be materialistic. I personally had the "knock off version of Barbie's dream house"  more of an apartment then a mansion really.  It is no surprise however that Barbie's appearance caused the most controversy. "Her tiny waist and enormous breasts--it was estimated that if she were a real woman, her measurements would be 36-18-38--led many to claim that Barbie provided little girls with an unrealistic and harmful example and fostered negative body image".  As an olive skinned dirty blonde/brunette at 5'1" I can tell you that I am far lacking when it comes to Barbie's image of porcelain skin,  height or proportions.

A real life depiction of a Barbie Doll and a real life 20 Year old 
Researchers at the University of South Australia scaled up both Barbie and Ken, and found that one in 50 men would have Ken’s proportions, whereas not 1 in 100,000 women would have anything close to Barbie’s: if she were a real woman, she’d have such a small waist that she’d like only have room for half a liver and a few inches of intestines. Her legs are 50% longer than her arms (average woman’s: 20%), and her neck is twice as long as an avererage woman’s, so she probably wouldn’t be able to hold up her head. She’d have a BMI of 16.24 (18.5 is the lowest end of ‘normal’) and likely not menstruate – scary truth, she’d tick a few boxes for a diagnosis of anorexia.

So the question remains is Barbie a good role model for young women?  Does her pursuit and success  in any career she endeavors despite her looks make her a role model for success, in spite of beauty...or because of it?   Can we assume that her image is the paramount vision of beauty, if succesful sales marks votes? Or can she be just one example of "beuaty" amongst an array of  beauty which comes in all different packaging of heights, weights, skin colors (Etc).

Should barbies be banned? The Iranian morality police made headline news when they extended the long reach of the law to dolls, and has activated an official ban on the sale of Barbies.  The ban on the little doll produced by the U.S.-based Mattel Company, as well as the accessories she comes with, is part of the response to tightened sanctions against the Islamic Republic by Western nations. Muslim clerics had already succeeded in banning the curvaceous cutie in Saudi Arabia in 2003, outlawing Barbie altogether by declaring her “offensive to Islam.”

Iranian-Dolls-Sara-DaraBut Islamic leaders in Iran have been complaining about Barbie’s “destructive cultural and social consequences” since 1996.  Now, Iranians are being introduced to a new couple, albeit virtuous siblings, to replace Barbie and her friend Ken. Meet Dara and Sara- complete with a little head scarf for the eight year old Muslim girl doll.

According to a release published Monday on the Iranian Islam for Today website, “The Muslim dolls have been developed by a government agency to promote traditional values, with their "modest clothing and pro-family backgrounds". They are widely seen as an effort to counter the American dolls and accessories that have flooded the Iranian market.”

The report goes on to quote Iranian toy seller Masoumeh Rahimi who allegedly welcomed the dolls, saying Barbie was “foreign to Iran’s culture” because “some of the buxom, blonde dolls have revealing clothing.” Allegedly, the toy seller said young girls who play with Barbie, a doll ‘she sees as wanton,’ could grow into women who reject Iranian values.  “I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile,” Rahimi was quoted as saying.

The release points out that each of the dolls is supposed to be eight years old, “young enough under Islamic law for Sara to appear in public without a head scarf. But each of the four models of Sara comes with a white scarf to cover her brown or black hair.”  According to the report, some 100,000 dolls have been manufactured – in China – and each will sell for 125,000 rials ($15) compared with 332,000 rials for a “genuine” Barbie and 25,000 rials for a copy.  Is this taking things to an extreme?  I suppose this is a matter of culture, ethics, and personal opinion, and would leave this for you to decide. Personally I worry whenever any kind of censorship occurs, who decides where it ends?

Then there is the old adage, any attention is good attention. Barbie drummed up even more controversy in 2011 when released a Barbie doll designed by Tokidoki, a Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand, and it  stirred up a controversy because the doll, which sports a pale pink bob, is covered with tattoos on her neck and shoulders.

No doubt, there are plenty of people who will object to the doll, but this is not a mainstream Barbie product intended for young girls. The $50 doll is being marketed to adult collectors. Only 7,400 were made and, according to the Tokidoki Website, they are all sold out.  It also isn’t the first time "Barbie" and "tattoo" have been uttered in the same breath.  As a "chick" who digs tatoos, and has one of her own, I'm a fan.

These days, there are plenty of other options on the market, such as the American Girl Dolls, promoting girls to "follow their inner star".  The dolls portray nine– to eleven–year–old girls of a variety of ethnicities. They are sold with accompanying books told from the viewpoint of the girls. Originally the stories focused on various periods of American history, but were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life. A variety of related clothing and accessories is also available.  I think this is a great option to inspire young women and learn about the history of women's suffrage.

Spinning off of International Women's Day, and some fascinating research I found about women in IT, or the lack there of in my blog Talk Nerdy To Me.  The question is more layered then I have time for in this blog.  A clever point is raised in the fluffy dramitzation of  Elle Woods, Sorority Girl gone IV League Lawyer in "Legally Blonde";  Should we judge a book by it's cover? To play devils advocate, do women need to "look" a certain way to prove their intelligence (ie the Hillary Clinton Pant suit?), or is our society beyond that... are we?  I'm not so sure.  

Dove's Real Beauty Campaign
In the end, love her, or hate her, Barbie's here to stay!  I truly can see both sides of the story.  I admire Barbie's ability to appeal to young women to dream big, and go after any career or position there hearts desire.  She is of course beautiful, but in my humble opinion beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and she is just one example, as so eloquently demonstrated by the Dove's Real Beauty Campaign!  Maybe if beauty really does come in all shapes and sizes, we shouldn't condemn Barbie for her packaging, after all it should be what's on the inside that counts. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Talk Nerdy to Me

Lesia Greene, John Chambers- CEO of Cisco, Me, and Michele Ricketts
I still remember it , clear as crystal.  My very first Global Sales Seminar with Cisco Systems (at the time).  LIVE from San Francisco...  Jam packed with brilliant speakers, motivational and educational seminars.  That night we had our first party (Little did I know in all my doe eyed-ness that there would be little to no sleep that entire week...up at the crack of dawn for seminars, and up for pretty much the rest of the night Celebrating our victories, and networking!).  

Walking around and getting to speak with John Chambers, and Rick Justice was like something out of a dream for those of us tech nerds who close to worshiped the esteemed C-Execs. I decided in that moment to meander myself across the room in search of the ladies room.  With close to 10,000 people- I figured there would absolutely be a line wrapped around the corner.  As I walked on, I saw a never ending line of men- for what I assumed was the bar.  It was in that moment, a miracle occurred!  For the FIRST TIME in the HISTORY of my LIFE, I walked into the ladies room, without a line! Not a single person in front of me.  Women- we know this is a Miracle.  Men forced to hold the ladies purse in line and wait an unconventional period of time, both parties pondering life's greatest mystery (or one of at least)- "why do women take so much longer?".  

It was in that second, I realized that long and winding line of men was not for the bar after all, is was for the Male Restroom. My first thought: " MUAH HA HA HA PAY BACK!!!"  Second thought:  Has hell frozen over, and are pigs flying somewhere?  Third thought- Women in Technology, we are way outnumbered! 

I like to consider myself a "Closet Nerd".  My first years in school growing up, I always won the technology award for "Computers".  After all it was during my prime time that they became so pivotal in education.  As an innovation, school use of computers has spread swiftly, widely, and, on occasion, deeply. A few statistics on computer use suggest the broad outlines of the picture:

  • In 1981, 18 percent of schools had computers; in 1991, 98 percent had them.
  • In 1981, 16 percent of schools used computers for instructional purposes; by 1991, 98 percent did so.
  • In 1981, there were, on average, 125 students per computer; in 1991, there were 18.
  • In 1985, students used computers in school labs just over 3 hours a day; in 1989, that figure had risen to 4hours a day.

These few numbers give a sense of an expanding technological base in schools.  I was enamored by the computer.  I would stay late while my mom was working and go straight to the computer labs and mess around on a broad range of activities from binary codes to the revolutionary (at the time) games "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" and "The Oregan Trail"  Although it wasn't until I was in High School that we were able to purchase our first family computer for the home. 

In College, early on declared my major doubling in Global Business and Marketing because of my love of travel and creativity, but  I excelled in Management Information Systems (MIS), and Computer Information Systems (CIS) courses, and would often take them as my electives.  As I graduated cum laude and with the highest honor of Presidential Scholarship and initiation into the Pen and Sword Society.   Subsequent to graduation,  I was invited to an Alumni Event at the World Famous Waldorf Astoria in NYC to be an ambassador or our College.  It was there where I met several amazing people who worked at Cisco and were alumni of my alma mater.  At the time, Jerry McAvey, was the Cisco Operations Director, and Lou McElwain Area VP for Cisco Commercial East, all around great people personally and professionally, and Jaspers to boot! :) 

We had a delightful conversation, and I suppose they liked me and believed in me, and Thank God they did, because that conversation changed my life.  At the time, I was studying to be a stock broker on Wall Street, and they asked me if I would ever consider leaving NY or applying for the Cisco ASR/ASE (Associate Sales Rep/Associate System Engineer) program in RTP NC because they thought I would be a good candidate.  

I applied, had three phone interviews, and was flown to RTP.  In the elegant, and modern Cisco building I sat down pensively, not knowing the next few minutes would change my life.  As we were herding ourselves into a giant room, filled with tables and bells we began the interview process.  I knew there was far too much competition to mess up, for every ONE seat 800 people were interviewing from around the word- no pressure! The first interview went splendid, the second as well.  The third however looked at my resume, scoffed, and said I don't think you are a good candidate (before I even had a chance to open my mouth).  Without missing a beat, I said "I think you're wrong".  A bit shocked, he smiled, and continued the interview process.  It was at the end I circled back and said, "Do you think I am a good candidate now?", to which he retorted "you were when you told me I was wrong" =) 

My Cisco Awards through the years
It turns out, someone had mixed up my interview days and I was there on the Engineering Day.  I did so well selling myself as an Engineer, I was offered both positions :).  One year later of extensive Sales and Technology Training, I became CCSE, and CCDA certified and graduated. I went on to Commercial and SMB Sales where I twice was awarded the esteemed "Cisco Commitment to Excellence Award", given to only one candidate a year.  Fast forward almost a decade later,  and I currently serves as Cisco Relationship Manager for Century Link, Embarq, and Qwest three of our larger SMB Resale partners. This year I was honored to be recognized as the annual winner of the prestigious "Cisco World Wide Channel Organization Award for Innovation and Growth". 

I am very excited to now sit on two CompTIA committees: IT Service and Support as well as Advancing Women in IT. I am a long standing member of the National Women in Technology Group, where I have given speeches for young women in technology. Moreover, I actively gives back to the community and am an advocate for U Touch - an organization focused on transforming lives in disadvantaged regions by providing Technology, Training and eMentoring.

So obviously Technology has been long ingrained in my veins, and now in my relationship as I date one of the techiest guys I know, Jay McBain (also a closet nerd).  I am honored to be included with him, as a nominee in this year's SMB150 amongst such other incredible IT Icons such as Arlin Sorensen, Todd Thibodeaux, Harry Brelsford, Jerry Koustavas, Karl Palachuk, Bob Godgart, and Jay McBain amongst many others whom I admire and respect in our industry.  

I was going to the list of amazing candidates when something else struck me.  Cue my bathroom lightbulb moment, but ladies in technology we are out numbered once again!  Outnumbered in every category to be exact.  I did some research, and here are the stats:

I found that so interesting it inspired me to do more research on how men and women compare in the world of technology.  The issue of women in tech is a hot topic — whether the conversation is about female board members and entrepreneurs in a male-dominated industry, or about opportunities for women to get education in tech earlier in life;  this is one of my main focuses in Women in Technology Groups, and goals of getting  powerful women in IT to become E-Mentors to speak to young women in various parts of the world for U-Touch.  According to this NY Times infograph, I found these startling statistics about the lack of female representation, and decline of Women in High Tech fields:

Does the IT industry discriminate against women? It depends on who you're asking. According to the exclusive 2008 Skills Survey, male and female tech workers have very different views on the topic.  

While the majority (44 per cent) of respondents to the survey disagree or strongly disagree with the statement 'the IT industry discriminates against women', a tale of two sexes emerges when the results are broken down by gender.

According to Silicon.Com the majority (51 per cent) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed the lack of women in IT is bad for the industry, slightly down on 2008 when 54 per cent held that view. The same proportion (51 per cent) believes the image of IT is off-putting to women, down one percentage point on last year.

That women are underrepresented in the IT industry is well documented: male IT workers greatly outnumber females in the UK workforce.  Ironically the two genders agreed that the image of IT is off-putting to women, with 57.5 per cent of women agreeing or strongly agreeing with this view, along with 51 per cent of men.

Whether women buy more tech products than men seems to be another facet of the subject emerging right now. According to a new report from Parks Associates, more women than men are downloading movies and music, women do the majority of game-playing across some platforms, and women have higher “purchase intentions” than men do when it comes to some electronics.

Women are 40 percent more likely than men to play games on Facebook, represent the majority of Nintendo Wii players, and match men in terms of owning and playing Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PS3, says the report. And women are 73 percent more likely than men to have watched a full-length TV show online in the past 30 days.

Parks Associates also says that women have higher purchase intentions than men do when it comes to buying popular devices like tablets, laptops and smartphones, though men’s interest surpassed women’s when it came to purchasing flat-screen LCD TVs.  According to a Harvard Business Review report from last year, U.S. women continue to say they control more than 70 percent of total consumer spending. In 2008, men were estimated to spend $902 annually on consumer electronics, compared with the $558 women spent on tech each year.  By 2009, women were spending more on consumer electronics than men, according to the CEA. It says women accounted for $55 billion of the $96 billion spent on electronics gear that year.

I hope that this surge of women's interest in purchasing and participating in technology will inspire more of us to join the technology world in education and career.  I feel blessed to be a women in technology, not because I am a women, but in-spite of it.  Cisco is a company I am proud to say is often celebrated with Awards for Women in Technology.  I hope my story inspires you to vote for me in the SMB150, as a representative of Cisco, the Vendor/Parner Community, Social Media and Technology activists, and a proud Woman in IT.   

MY SMB 150 Nomination

How do you vote? Here are 7 simple "How To Steps": 
1. Click on the site link:  Vote for Michelle Ragusa Here
2. Click Register in the top right 
3. Enter User Name, E-mail, Pass Word, Code Verification 4. Check your email inbox (if not there, check spam folder) 
5. You will get an e-mail from-"administrator" Subject- "Thanks for joining, please activate your account" 
6. Click on the link to activate your account. 
7. Log back in to vote with the user-name and password you created, and vote by clicking the small blue arrow to the left of my name! :)

Please note you can vote multiple times- one vote per nominee- once a day-  for the entire month of March!  Thank you for your help, and supporting one of the few, proud, and the brave- a techie girl.  

Thanks to all your votes I won~ :)