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Women and Cloud Computing, Part I: Is There a “Cloud” Ceiling?

Women and Cloud Computing, Part I: Is There a “Cloud” Ceiling?

I’ve deemed this article as “Part One” in a series of posts on this topic for several reasons. Firstly, the conversation of women in technology is far too expansive for one single post. Secondly, there are scores of women in cloud computing who deserve a feature of their own. Look to hear about many of them in the New Year.

Not to rehash an argument as old as time, but it occasionally bears repeating: the glass ceiling has vexed many a qualified woman over the decades, limiting her rise to the upper echelons of her industry because of her gender. The technological community has proven no better for the fairer sex, unfortunately.

The computer world has always been a boy’s club. Trying to name a significant female pioneer in the community induces a head scratch or two. But cloud computing is all about inclusiveness: maintaining a stockpile of information in the worldwide swimming pool we call the Web.

Could the cloud offer opportunities to women to demonstrate leadership that other technological avenues have not?

The Cloud Network of Women unflinchingly believes it can. This “non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing” has blazed a path for womanhood and progressive technology in a way that other such organizations have failed to do.

Among its ranks are Jocelyn DeGance Graham, among the most powerful women in IT, and EKKO Consulting Partner Becky Swain. Die-hard feminists will object to the presence of a man in the midst of such impressive ladies: HyperStratus CEO Bernard Golden serves on CloudNOW’s advisory board.

I personally don’t chafe that Bernard’s on board. Unfortunately, technology — including new iterations like cloud computing — is a primarily male community. Having a man on board makes CloudNOW’s commendable mission of female tech empowerment more palatable. What’s more, the fact that Golden is a true “cloud guru” legitimizes CloudNOW with his expertise.

Yet men don’t need such an organization to galvanize their creativity and bottom-line production of useful technologies. Here’s a secret: women don’t either.

Laurie Spitz has helmed dietSNAPS, an iPhone app that documents every meal you eat with a picture: the dietary information is all stored in the cloud. Lisa Gordon ensures you’ll never forget a face with NameCatcher, an app that keeps track of names and information of everyone you meet. Most heartening for the women tech community, Gordon claims that even more ideas for apps are in the pipeline.

Women don’t need to masquerade as Ariana Huffington in order to achieve meaningful accomplishments in technology. Whereas their male counterparts concentrate on devices that will reap huge profits and power, women in technology are instead focusing on ways that computers, the Web, and applied science can improve the world: how we eat, how we communicate, how we lift one another up.

Feminist-hating men might deride all this as syrupy Kumbaya drivel. Yet women know better. The cloud, and other developments that help people come together, will usher in the next tech revolution. Don’t be surprised if a lady ends up leading the way.

By Jeff Norman

About Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.