Women in Technology International

Women in Technology International

Women in Technology International (WITI) is a worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement of women in business and technology. It was established in 1989 by Carolyn Leighton as an email-based information network business. [ [http://www.witi.com/center/aboutwiti/history.php The evolution of WITI] .]

First in the United States, Carolyn Leighton founded WITI (Women in Technology International) in 1989 as a worldwide e-mail network for women in all technology sectors. 2009 will mark the 20th Anniversary of WITI’s establishment. At the time WITI was founded, Carolyn was President of Criterion Research, a research consulting firm for the high-tech industry based in California, which she founded in 1984, as well as chair of the Core Competency Database Project at Stanford University.

Due to Carolyn’s leadership and vision, WITI has grown from a primarily U.S. based networking group to be the premiere brand and worldwide organization dedicated to empowering women worldwide to achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and economic prosperity.

Carolyn Leighton has 35 years of experience as an educator and entrepreneur. In addition to WITI, she founded four start-ups in the high-tech, legal sectors and, most recently, the pet industry. She attended the University of Michigan and has a bachelor's degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College. Carolyn was named one of the "Top 100 Women in Computing" in 1997 and 2000. In addition to her continuing work with WITI, Carolyn now runs a dog camp on the central coast of California.

When Carolyn Leighton started WITI in 1989, she had no idea how significantly that decision would affect her life and impact United States culture. A California based organization; WITI rapidly became the leading organization in the U.S.A., and then the world for women in technology. WITI’s mission was to increase the number of women in management and executive level positions, to help women become more technologically literate as well as financially independent and to encourage young women to choose careers in science and technology.

At the time of WITI's founding, she was building her third and most successful company, Criterion Research, which she had started in 1984. She remembers vividly the day the idea for WITI was born. "I was sitting in a coffee shop waiting for a colleague and friend, Terry, who was also building a small company. We had become friends and met regularly to help each other with business ideas, etc. While I waited for Terry - who was running about 30 minutes late - I started reading the cover story of a business magazine I brought with me. The story was about why women were not making it to the top, reporting that there was a mere 2% increase of women into middle management positions during the previous 10 year period. It was a statistic I found startling, even though it supported the stream of incredible stories I was hearing from women in technology at my client companies."

WITI started out as a series of small meetings with women in southern and northern California talking about issues, ideas for the network, and how WITI could use the network to help other women. When Sun Microsystems hosted the first WITI meeting, WITI was expecting about 50 women to show up. Instead, the room was overflowing with about 250-300 women and things just started spiraling out of control. In 1995, Carolyn Leighton, in her role as leader, visionary and pure American entrepreneur, founded the annual WITI conference series to help actualize the ideals of WITI's mission.

Despite warnings that WITI shouldn't expect more than 300 to 400 attendees for their first conference, WITI sold out the exhibit floor and had standing room only for their 1257 attendees. Winning Gloria Steinem as their first keynote was a great accomplishment for Carolyn and WITI as Gloria had rarely appeared at events in Silicon Valley. An incredible and inspiring experience, Ms. Steinem challenged WITI attendees to use technology knowledge to make the world a better place.

By 1998, the WITI conference had become the world's first Women in Technology Summit hosted in the United States of America in the Silicon Valley. 5,000 women from around the world attended the 1998 Summit with the attendees sent by every major leading high-tech company based in the United States. There were also over one hundred members of the international media in attendance with worldwide publicity for women in science and technology being one of WITI's core tools for advancing women.

The keynote speakers at the Summit were the "Top Ten Women in Technology" chosen by American based Working Woman Magazine and confirmed by WITI. The NBC Nightly News featured the 1998 WITI Women in Technology Summit on its evening broadcast. 2009 will mark the 15th Anniversary of the annual WITI conference series.

Currently WITI has regional networks in USA, Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and United Kingdom. As of July 2005 it had 103,000 registered users. [ [http://www.witi.com/center/aboutwiti/demographics.php WITI demographics] ]

WITI Governmental Work

After the first WITI conference, under the leadership of Carolyn Leighton, WITI partnered with the United States Federal Glass Ceiling Commission under the Department of Labor to work on their "Final Recommendations." WITI was able to influence the Commission to include verbiage about technology as a tool to break the glass ceiling in its "Final Recommendations."

The Commission mandated that its members carry out the recommendations of the Commission and serve as the agents of change the commission recommended. In the fall of 1995, Carolyn organized a meeting in the Silicon Valley and invited Commission Deputy Director, Lisa Ross, to network with over 50 leaders from high-tech companies in order to exchange information and resources between government and the private sector about Glass Ceiling issues. Carolyn was able to get competitors to discuss some of their real world issues in front of each other.

After the Commission ended in the fall of 1995, the former Executive Director of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, Rene Redwood began a Keynote Address in June 5, 1996 this way: 'Good morning. [Thank you Donna Terazawa] and [Thank Carolyn Leighton and Julie Lubbering] and I extend warm appreciation to WITI for being a "Champion for Change."'

In 1997, WITI was invited to represent the United States abroad at the first "Vital Voices" conference hosted by Ambassador to Vienna Swanee Hunt and First Lady Hillary Clinton in Vienna. Under Carolyn Leighton's guidance, a very young member of the staff, Julie Lubbering, was sent to represent WITI in order to further Carolyn's efforts to encourage the next generation of WITI leadership. The result was that WITI was able to have a "voice" in setting policy that women worldwide use science and technology as a tool towards Democracy as women approached the 21st century.

WITI Hall of Fame

The WITI Hall of Fame was established in 1996 to honor women for their outstanding contribution in science and technology. [ [http://www.witi.com/center/witimuseum/halloffame/ WITI Hall of Fame] ]

While collaborating with a WITI staff member about rewarding the achievements of the fantastic women in science and technology whose lives were being overlooked in our own time, Carolyn Leighton immediately sprung to action and approached IBM corporation to sponsor the first WITI Women in Science and Technology Hall of Fame in 1996.

Carolyn was the ringleader behind getting the outside world excited about the first WITI Hall of Fame. Over 1,000 people attended the first WITI Hall of Fame induction ceremony from the high-tech industry. Among the inductees to the WITI Hall of Fame’s first class were Sheila Widnall and Cheryl Shavers. When President Clinton appointed her Secretary of the Air Force in 1993, Dr. Sheila E. Widnall became the first woman placed in charge of a branch of the military.

Dr. Cheryl Shavers was a General Manager at Intel Corporation at the time of her induction. After her WITI induction, Cheryl became the first female African-American Undersecretary of Commerce for Technology of the United States government.

Now in its 13th year with over sixty-five inductees, the WITI Hall of Fame has become the most distinguished award for women in science and technology from around the world. Since, the WITI Hall of Fame is based and was born in the United States, most of the inductees are currently living in the United States. However, the WITI Hall of Fame now has representatives from 4 continents.

The WITI Hall of Fame was conceptualized in the United States as a mechanism for women of the U.S.A. to show appreciation, friendship and to honor colleagues from around the world. The WITI Hall of Fame has also served as a valuable tool for United States international outreach. For instance, in 2006, Francoise Barre Sinoussi became the first French-born woman inducted to the WITI Hall of Fame with the Consulate General of France issuing a press release about her induction. Francoise is most noted for the role that she played in the initial identification of HIV-1 as the causative agent of AIDS.

So momentous was the first WITI Hall of Fame ceremony in 1996, that the Vice President's office sent a fax of a letter from Vice President Gore, which was read at the first WITI Hall of Fame ceremony, congratulating the winners. In 1997, the White House sent a letter from President Clinton to be read at the WITI Hall of Fame ceremony establishing the WITI Hall of Fame as a truly American-based institution.

In 1996, Vice President Gore remarked, "President Clinton and I share Women in Technology International's goal of women's full participation and excellence in science and technology."

In 1997, President Clinton remarked, "As members of WITI and as leaders in the growing and innovative fields of science and technology, you play a crucial role in forging a bright future for our nation."

In the fall of 2008, WITI will host the 13th annual WITI Hall of Fame awards ceremony. One of the legacies of Carolyn Leighton’s vision for the WITI Hall of Fame is that the living history of the inductees be recorded for posterity. For instance, Donna Shirley was Manager of the Mars Exploration program when inducted to the WITI Hall of Fame in 1997. Just over a year after her induction, the Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars and the Sojourner Rover became the first interplanetary rover. WITI was able to capture this history and now features the story on the WITI Web site.

At the second WITI Hall of Fame ceremony, industry leaders recognized the world’s first programmers now called the “Women of the ENIAC,” for the first time in front of over 1,000 cheering and screaming people in science and technology. WITI was able to capture this history in real-time and their story is now a featured video on the WITI Web site.

Eight years into the twenty first century, Carolyn Leighton and WITI are still flourishing with continued support from industry, government, academia and research facilities from around the world continuing to send in stellar nominations to the WITI Hall of Fame.

1996 inductees

* Ruth Leach Amonette
* Dr. Eleanor Baum
* Dr. Jaleh Daie
* Dr. Barbara Grant
* Stephanie L. Kwolek
* Dr. Misha Mahowald
* Linda Sanford
* Dr. Cheryl L. Shavers
* Dr. Sheila Widnall
* Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu

1997 inductees

* Fran Allen
* Carol Bartz
* The ENIAC Programmers: Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum
* Pamela Meyer Lopker
* Marcia Neugebauer
* Donna Shirley
* Shaunna Sowell
* Patty Stonesifer
* Patricia Wallington
* Rosalyn S. Yalow

1998 inductees

* Dr. Anita Borg
* Mildred Spiewak Dresselhaus
* Dr. Gertrude B. Elion
* Julie Spicer England
* Eleanor Francis Helin

1999 inductees

* Yvonne C. Brill
* Sherita T. Ceasar
* Dr. Thelma Estrin
* Dr. Claudine Simson
* Yukako Uchinaga

2000 inductees

* Dr. Bonnie Dunbar
* Dr. Irene Greif
* Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman
* Dr. Jennie S. Hwang
* Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

2001 inductees

* Duy-Loan Le
* Janet Perna
* Darlene Solomon

2002 inductees

* Judy Estrin
* Dr. Caroline Kovac
* Dr. Elaine Oran

2003 inductees

* Chieko Asakawa
* Wanda Gass
* Dr. Kristina M. Johnson
* Shirley C. McCarty

2004 inductees

* Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton, Ph.D.
* Dr. E. Gail de Planque, Ph.D.
* Dr. Pat Selinger
* Judy Shaw
* Dr. Susan Solomon

2005 inductees

* Barbara Bauer
* Sonja Bernhardt
* Sandra Burke
* Melendy Lovett
* Amparo Moraleda Martinez
* Neerja Raman

2006 inductees

*Maria Azua, VP of technology and innovation at Armonk, IBM
*Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at Institut Pasteur in Paris, France
*Kim Jones, VP of global education, government and health sciences, Sun Microsystems
*Nor Rae Spohn, VP and general manager, Hewlett-Packard personal laserjet solutions division
*Been-Jon Woo, director of technology integration and development, Intel

The 2006 honor ceremony was held at the 11th Annual WITI Hall of Fame Dinner on October 30, 2006 [Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, October 11, 2006]

2007 inductees

* Dr. Wanda M. Austin
* Helen Greiner
* Lucinda Sanders
* Padmasree Warrior

References and notes

External links

* [http://www.witi.com/ WITI website]

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