Leading Data Center Ladies Discuss Why the Industry Should Care About Hiring More Women
by Josh Anderson
ASHBURN, VA — Why should we care about hiring more women in the data center industry? At CapRE’s 2018 Data Center Forecast East, we convened half a dozen leading women in the data center field for a panel called Women in Mission Critical: Awareness, Leadership, Mentoring. To kick things off, the panel jumped in head-first to tackle this large but important question.
We first heard from Julie Forsht, Eastern Regional Manager at Powersmiths, who offered some advice in how things have changed during her career. “I went to Clarkson University — a small Engineering college in Upstate New York,” she began to reply. When I first went to college, in my electrical engineering classes, I was definitely one out of 500 women that were there. And it definitely has changed. I try to go back and do what I can there, as well, to just show people. And just in general over the last 10 years in general we are seeing more and more women coming in.”
We next connected with Sam Sheehan, PE & Director of Mechanical Engineering at CCG Facilities Integration Incorporated. Sheehan thinks that women have had to learn and grow from the experience that Rorsht described. “I think that — and I’ve heard this from many people — because there are so few women in engineering, there is a tendency for those women to study hard, work hard, and prove themselves,” she said. “It’s not a given. I think that’s another plus for [why you should care about hiring more women].”
Next, Twyla Powell, Business Attraction Manager at the Henrico County Economic Development Authority gave some personal reflection on women in the workplace in general. “A lot of women are very good with detail. And if you can get them to work really hard, and at the same time, a lot of women like to build relationships,” she shared. “And they take – well, I will speak for myself, — I take very seriously, what is the culture at where we work? What are our values? And how do we want to influence the people around me with those values?”
“I especially find that, now that I am a little bit older, and in the older part of the workforce, it’s very important to me that I represent to the young people that work with me, how to live the culture,” Powell continued. “Because a lot of times they know how to do all of the very technical stuff, but they sort of lack soft skills. And soft skills are part of the values that you have with things like customer service, attention to detail, responding to things on time. Those sort of things that are very important to a company.”
We finally returned the microphone to CCG’s Sheehan, who closed out this discussion by recounting a conversation from the panel’s preparatory meeting. “Yesterday when we all got together and discussed what is important to the industry, we agreed that women tend to have customers for life,” she recalled. “Like Twyla said, we really do build those relationships, and that benefits the companies that we work for. We all agree on that.”