Editorial: Demonstrating results

Journalists are idealists by nature. We look at the world as it could be but with a clear picture of how it is today. This is an attitude that we probably share with most feds. So when we ventured to look at how women make it to the top in federal information technology, we assumed that the glass ceiling was still firmly in place.

We were pleased to find that many women did not feel they had hit a ceiling. And perhaps that should not surprise us, given that the leaders include Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for e-government and IT, and Kimberly Nelson, the Environmental Protection Agency’s CIO, who is widely seen as a rising star.

A woman often faces unique challenges, not the least of which is trying to be a good employee, a good wife and a good mother. We found that many women seem to be doing well at handling that delicate balancing act.

"Most of the jobs, whether you're in government or in the private sector, are very demanding. Most of them are not 40-hour-a-week jobs," said Kathleen Adams, senior vice president and director of the civil sector at SRA International and a former federal executive.

But many tacitly acknowledge that the playing field is not yet even. One essential step toward leveling that field has been focusing on results. "I don't think it has anything to do with women and men," Evans said. "It has to do with competency."

If the focus is truly on results and competency, it is clear that women will succeed. And perhaps that is where agencies fall short.

It was also interesting that IT operations themselves are seen as a niche. Adair Martinez, deputy CIO for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said, "IT is its own glass ceiling."

Perhaps these issues are not unrelated. If the IT shop is truly an effective part of an organization that focuses on results, it is not a niche operation but is essential to the organization’s success.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above