By Lindsay-Rae McIntyre
20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures tells the story of the Space Race from a new perspective, uncovering the contributions of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan. Inspired by the achievements of these three women, IBM aims to shine a spotlight on hidden figures from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to act as role models for the next generation. Because when creative minds work with the best technology, we can outthink anything.
For more than twenty years, IBM has been focused on the development of the STEM pipeline. We created EXITE and IGNITE (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering and IGNiting Interest in Technology and Engineering) to focus on STEM for underrepresented boys and girls. We partner with organizations that have the ability to influence students to pursue careers in the STEM fields.
IBM collaborated to create P-TECH in 2011, which prepares youth, particularly low-income students of color, to earn a college degree and join the workforce. In six years or less, students can earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree in a STEM field. The model is now expanding to 60 schools across six states, with 250 industry partners serving thousands of students. And we have extended this model to 14 schools in Australia.
In the last 18 months, IBM joined AMIE (Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering) as a platinum board member to help develop African-American STEM talent in the U.S. We recently took IBM’s “Leadership Live” initiative to Tuskegee University and North Carolina A&T State University, and the program will expand to the majority of AMIE campuses in 2017. The program supplements academic and technical skill preparation with IBM’s wealth of leadership development resources — helping students be even more competitive when they enter the workforce.
More recently, IBM partnered with 20th Century Fox in bringing to light the previously untold story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson in Hidden Figures. This movie shines a spotlight on the African-American talent at NASA and shows how their contributions were vital to one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The women in this story defied norms. At a time when women and African-Americans were judged only on their gender and skin color, these women forced NASA to see their massive intellectual capabilities. And NASA and the U.S. benefited greatly from their grit and willingness to persevere, knowing that they had a unique contribution to make in history.
As illustrated in the movie, disruptive thinking comes from people who have courage. As we supplement current leadership strengths with a focus on diverse networks and inclusion, we enhance our relevance and competitive advantage in fast-moving industries and markets. And at our core, we believe that diversity ignites innovation.
Learn more about IBM’s leadership in STEM Diversity.
Lindsay-Rae McIntyre is IBM HR Vice President for Business Technical Leadership and Diversity.
If you are interested in finding out more about other technical opportunities at IBM, follow our campaign #IBMTechTalent and if you want to learn more about how IBM promotes women empowerment, read the stories about #WomenAtIBM.
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