Federal agencies have embarked on various IT modernization journeys in the last few years. Still, according to an all-woman panel of Federal IT leaders, a critical factor in successful IT modernization is a diverse workforce, which means hiring more women.

Mary Davie, the deputy associate administrator for the Mission Support Directorate at NASA, sees the lack of women in Federal IT roles as a serious issue, particularly because as organizations tasked with serving increasingly diverse populations, “the workforce must resemble those constituents,” she explained.

“Our country, our world, has an increasingly diverse population. And in order to make sure that we serve our constituents and the world effectively, you have to have all those folks represented throughout every decision process,” Davie said.

For agencies, priority number one is effectively and efficiently accomplishing missions, which is critically important, she added. But agencies should also prioritize diversifying their workforce bringing more women into IT and leadership roles.

Laura J. Stanton, the assistant commissioner for the Office of Information Technology Category at the U.S. General Services Administration, echoed Davie’s assessment. She went on to say that there is a correlation between successful IT modernizations in Federal agencies and more diversity in the workforce.

“The IT modernization is about having a vision, to see where we should be going and what we should be doing with that technology. To understand that or workforce needs to be representative of the population and understand the population and not skewed to any one particular demographic,” Stanton said.

The conversation of diversity in Federal IT roles was pointed toward women primarily. But April Yakupkovic, the compliance and ongoing authorization manager at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, emphasized that diversity needs to go far beyond just gender.

“There is value in the different lived experiences of people, from younger generations to people of color to women. Diversity needs to be a clear and purposeful objective for all agencies,” Yakupkovic said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.