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"What obstacles existed in the past are not as prevalent" - Lori Cernell, Gartner Inc

Posted by David Brown, EVP, Hays | Veredus, on Tuesday, Mar 8, 2016

Lori Cernell headshotWhen Lori Cernell started in software quality assurance the specialty wasn’t well known or understood. She built her career establishing QA programs for cruise missiles and creating a database for gathering inspection data for government approval.

A combination of networking and her reputation for high quality results got the attention of hiring managers at NASA, where she established the launch software quality assurance standard for NASA. She was also a member of an Agency-wide Software Working Group, representing KSC, whose charter was to advise the Agency on software-related matters and recommend software management, engineering, and assurance policies, standards, best practices, and guidance with emphasis on training, standards and metrics.

A phone call prompted another career change in 1999 when Lori left NASA and started her career as the QA Manager at Gartner, Inc. in Maitland, Fl. She is now the Senior Director of Quality Assurance.

In your opinion is there a difference between how men and women plan to progress in their careers? Do you think that there are any differences within the IT sector?

I would hope the answer is no, but I know that some of those historic differences still exist. The industry is definitely getting better. In my time in the industry I’ve seen more women coming into lower level jobs, but they are progressing slowly towards management. There is still that gender gap and some of the junior female workers aren’t confident in their aspirations to reach management.

One thing I have noticed is that many of the women starting in entry-level or junior roles are from outside the US. I haven’t seen as big an increase in US-based women starting careers in technology.

Globally respondents say flexible working practices and education to change workplace culture would have the biggest influence on gender equality. Do you think this is true?

Flexible hours is often put forward as a policy that is good for women, but I think it’s good for everyone. I often find that the changes in culture that are intended to better support women in their careers will better support everyone. Technology makes it easier than ever to offer that flexibility so men and women can support their families, fulfill their professional and personal responsibilities, and maintain balance in their lives.

I think education can be a blunt instrument. You’re not likely to change someone’s firm perspective with education programs. If you can match education with the right processes, as well as the natural changes that are happening in workplaces and broader society, then it can be an additional tool that could speed up the internal changes.

What is your career advice to women seeking management or leadership positions?

My advice wouldn’t be different for men or women. You need to show up to work every day and do your best work. Be fair to your peers and to those who work for you. I do think companies are becoming more progressive and what obstacles may have existed in the past are not as prevalent today.


Visit the Hays gender diversity page

Download the Global Gender Diversity report

Read the interview with Hays Director Ashleigh Mitchell


 Talk to Hays EVP David Brown about IT labour market trends


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