The 2019 Internet2 Global Summit was held on March 6 at the Washington, DC Marriott Marquis. Marla Meehl, co-chair of the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative steering committee, moderated a panel discussion centered on diversity strategies within the tech community. The Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative (I2I), formerly called the Gender Diversity Initiative, focuses resources, attention, and scholarships to improve gender diversity and inclusion in the community of networking and technical professionals.
Participating on the panel were Michelle Ray, executive director, The Walter Kaitz Foundation; Dr. Jennifer Farmer, director of Diversity and Inclusion, Northup Grumman Corporation; Dedra Chamberlin, CEO, Cirrus Identity and John Brown, Cloud Solution Architect, Microsoft.
Panelists shared insights on diversity practices, how their respective companies were addressing inclusion and encouraging employee buy-in. They also discussed how STEM education and IT were being addressed in marginalized communities. The audience was comprised largely of IT executives and tech professionals/influencers from universities, government and scientific research organizations. The session also highlighted the program’s scholarship and fellowship winners.
Ray offered that true diversity means an expansion of the definition to include equity, or a realization that we must help those in our society who need an extra lift so that everyone has an equal chance to succeed. Further, she shared that the Walter Kaitz Foundation funds early interventions that encourage college students to pursue a career in telecommunications. “I think that IT must be demystified to appeal to women and minorities so that they can be enticed to become interested in STEM. Cultural stereotypes that tie STEM-related pursuits to nerds, must be stopped. We must also work to build mentorship opportunities for women and minorities to help bring more young people into careers in science and information technology.”
Internet2 is a member-driven advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 provides a collaborative environment where research and education organizations can solve common technology challenges and develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research and community service missions. The Internet2 community touches nearly every major innovation that defines modern digital lives—and works to define “what’s next.”