A group of women in senior IT leadership positions at Federal agencies is calling for increased gender diversity in top government positions.

“I recognize that having women in leadership positions drew more women into the working level, which is, of course, the pipeline to create our future leaders,” Stacey A. Cummings, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for acquisition at the Department of Defense (DoD) said during an Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM) panel on Jan. 14.

While the number of women in Federal IT leadership positions has increased, Cummings noted that we “absolutely need” that number to grow. But she also stressed not only increasing gender diversity, but also diversity “across the board.”

“I see people looking at the leadership of an organization to determine whether or not they see themselves growing into that leadership position themselves,” Cummings said. “We really need to increase diversity in order to increase diversity, as well as to increase quality of the candidates and the employees that we have working in our offices.”

Beth Anne Killoran, deputy chief information officer at General Services Administration (GSA), noticed that in her first supervisor position, she found herself to be the only woman in the room and her ideas would always be “dismissed.”

Killoran said she teamed up with a male colleague to share her ideas after they were shut down so that her voice would be heard.

“Literally five to 10 minutes after I would say it, he would say the same thing and it was always taken. Always. So that sticks with me,” Killoran said. “You need to make sure that you are respecting the positions of others, making sure that you allow every voice to be heard.”

Mary Davie, deputy associate administrator for the Mission Support Directorate at NASA shared that she hopes to serve as a mentor and open the door for other women who want to get involved in Federal IT.

Davie stressed the importance of “making sure that government is doing its part to provide opportunities for people. Get people in the door early and let them see that there are opportunities, and then see women at different seats at the table so they can see themselves in those roles.”

“It’s all about the workforce,” Karen Evans, chief information officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), added. “It’s diversity of all kinds, not just women diversity but diversity of all kinds.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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