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While critical efforts are underway to boost gender equality in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, many may not appreciate the important role women played in tech in its earliest days. Indeed, many of the first computer programmers and coders were women. The first digital computers were invented in the mid-1940s; prior to this the word ‘computer’ referred to a job category usually performed by women – women with math degrees who, at the time, had few career alternatives. By the mid-1960s, as computer science innovation moved from corporations to universities with computer labs that were almost exclusively male-dominated, this gender balance changed dramatically.

I’m proud to work at Red Hat, a company that is working to fix this imbalance by being a constant champion for diversity in tech and, specifically, women in IT. Through efforts such as the annual Women in Open Source Awards (spread the word and nominate someone you know for the 2018 awards!) and Co.Lab, presented by Open Source Stories, Red Hat is working to both recognize and cultivate the current and next generations of women who will leave their mark on the technology industry. I’m equally proud to work alongside many women at Red Hat who are also doing this, which is why we are delighted to celebrate eight inspirational Red Hat associates who have made the final shortlist for Computing’s Women in IT Excellence Awards.

Careers in technology are exciting - they can involve a great deal of creativity and it encompasses a wide variety of skills and roles. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of open source and software development, in fact the ‘impact of the individual’ is something Red Hat president and CEO, Jim Whitehurst, spoke about in his keynote speech at Red Hat Summit 2017. He looked at the important role we can each play as creative individuals - by actively participating, we are each contributing to innovation on a grander scale. The Women in IT Excellence Awards are a great opportunity for us to highlight the impact of a number of individuals at Red Hat, and how they are contributing to our customers’ success.  

When the award shortlist was announced, we were excited to see so many nominees, from tech startups through to large organizations, and even more thrilled to see so many Red Hatters make the final shortlist:

Hero of the Year (Enterprise)

  • Sescia Grelet, project manager, Red Hat UK

IT Leader of the Year

  • Clare Grant, general manager, Mobile, Red Hat

Outstanding Returner Award

  • Claire Stephens, senior customer success manager, Red Hat
  • Sophie Gillot, senior talent acquisition manager, EMEA, Red Hat

Outstanding Transformation (Enterprise)

  • Tracy Corkett, services delivery practice lead, Red Hat

Rising Star Award (Enterprise)

  • Anika Blacksmith, manager, Inside Sales, Red Hat

Role Model of the Year (Enterprise)

  • Annagreth Flierl Williams, manager, strategic customer engagement (SCE) EMEA, Red Hat
  • Katrina Novakovic, senior customer success manager, Red Hat

These women are highly valued for their collaboration with other Red Hat teams, with customers and partners, and also with external organisations such as action groups for women in technology, and charities that help local communities. Our nominees have been described by their fellow associates as being ‘highly inclusive,’  ‘giving a lot and achieving a great deal,’ ‘willing to take a risk for the good of the organization,’ ‘multi-talented,’ having ‘passion for our company values and our people,’ ‘full of zeal,’ and ‘infectiously motivated.’ It’s clear each of these women has a big impact on the people around them, at Red Hat and beyond.

We applaud all our nominees for the contributions they make every day and we hope this initiative will help highlight that Red Hat, and IT, is a diverse, creative and exciting place to work.

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