Magazine article Working Mother

Wired for Excellence

Magazine article Working Mother

Wired for Excellence

Article excerpt

WORKING MOTHER TRAILBLAZERS PART 3

KARI HELPS GIRLS SEE THEMSELVES AS ENGINEERS. MICHELLE BRINGS A WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE TO XBOX. CHERVL IS CHEERING ON A NEW GENERATION OF MULTICULTURAL LEADERS. WE CAN ALL TAP INTO THE POWER OF THESE TALENTED TRAILBLAZING MOMS WHO ARE MAKING THEIR MARK IN THE TECH INDUSTRY.

For too long, girls have been left behind in math and science. But thanks to women like Kari Barbar of IBM Corporation/Michelle Wallig of Microsoft Corporation and Cheryl Mohr of Hewlett-Packard Company, the face of information technology is changing-and for the better. If you ask us, their passion for bringing women and minorities into the fold, while balancing their own careers and lives as working mothers, is as cool as anything that's yet to come out of Silicon Valley.

GEARING GIRLS TOWARD TECH

Kari Barbar, 46, VP of Client Relationship and Technology Exchange, IBM Corporation, Cary, NC; mom of Matt, 16, and Megan, 14

When I was a high school sophomore in Columbus, OH, Bell Labs hosted an engineer-for-a-dayprogram. I didn't know a thing about engineering, but I liked math and science, and Bell Labs was a very big employer in the area, so I wanted to go. All I needed was a permission slip. But when I asked for one, my chemistry teacher said, "Oh, I'm sorry, Kari, this is for the boya." And I just accepted it But that night, my mom suggested I try again and ask my freshmanyear biology teacher for permission to go. It was a valuable lesson. Ill never forget that day when 22 boys and I boarded the bus together.

I graduated from Purdue University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and took a job with IBM in Austin, TX. My big break came in 1992, when I was offered an opportunity to become the assistant to the chairman and CEO at IBM headquarters in Armonk, NY. But the move turned out to be much more difficult than I ever thought it would be.

The house we were planning to rent was sold, so we had to live in a hotel for a while, and we had no friends. Then there was an accident, and my 8-month-old daughter ended up in a body cast from the waist down. That taught me how much we all need each other in a crisis. Today we live in a neighborhood with lots of parents who can help out. It's so important to be part of a community!

I'm now one of two vice presidents who manage IBM's internai information technology needs-a $3 billion account. We have a group at IBM called the U.S. Women's Council, and I serve as an executive sponsor for its 44 U.S.-based Women in Technology (WIT) chapters. When an opportunity arose for us to team up with former astronaut Sally Ride's organization and hold an event to encourage girls' interest in science and technology, I said, "Oh, yeah!' We had hundreds of girls and their parents show up. I've also built a relationship with the Girl Scouts, locally and nationally. They're excited because the girls earn a Scout badge when they leave; we're excited because we introduce them to engineering.

Another thing I'm excited about is mentoring. I didn't have time to meet with all the women I wanted to mentor, so in 2002, I formed two mentoring groups. Those two groups have grown to more than a dozen, and we've since gone nationwide with 70 more. I like helping women feel they are part of a community!

BALANCE BOOSTER My husband, Mark, who is a school principal, and I cant always drive our son, Matt, to his football practices. But by teaming up with two other families, I only have to drive one day a week!

TECH MOM MOMENT Because I travel for my job, I've often missed monthly Bunco games with women friends in my area Another woman was having the same trouble. So I proposed job-sharing our slot on the team: I'd do half and she'd do half. One member of our group responded, "leave it to a woman to figure out how to have it all!"

PLAYING AROUND WITH XBOX

Michelle Wallig, 44, Group Manager, Xbox and Games Platform Central Services, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA; mom of Eric, 17, Mike, 13, and Matt, 12

I was born in Manila, in the Philippines, and came to the United States with my aunt when I was 3. …

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