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According to a Pew Research CenterDiversity study in 2021, statistics show that year after year, women are underpaid and underrepresented in technology. Women make up only 25% of computer-science related jobs and are even less represented in engineering, making up just 14% of the workforce. Things are even worse for women of color.


Open Mainframe Project aims to help close this gap and ensure that diversity is an important part of everything we do. From our project communities and leadership to the “Making Our Strong Community Stronger” collaborative initiative,  we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. In fact, as we prepare for Open Mainframe Summit, which is hosted in-person in Philadelphia, PA, and digitally for global attendance on September 21-22, we are working closely with the CHAOSS Diversity & Inclusion Badging Program. This program encourages events to obtain D&I badges for leadership, self-reflection, and self-improvement on issues critical to building the Internet as a social good. For the 2nd year in a row, Open Mainframe Summit earned a Gold Badge for prioritizing diversity and inclusion.

As part of this, Open Mainframe has several diversity sessions planned at the Summit. Check them out:

On Wednesday, September 21 at 10:10 am ET, Sharra Owens-Schwartz, Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity at Rocket Software, will give a keynote about “Bridge Gaps and Ignite the Spark for Growth: How Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Creates Value in the Mainframe Industry.”

DEI is revolutionizing the workforce. Many companies are struggling with a strategy to execute. In this session, you’ll get a deeper understanding of how DEI is necessary for all organizations if growth is a part of the roadmap.

We also have a diversity luncheon, sponsored by Open Mainframe Summit Platinum sponsor Broadcom Mainframe Software, planned on Wednesday, September 21 with several speakers including Owens-Schwartz.

Kelle Veverka, member of the Mainframe Open Education project and Program Manager, Education, at Broadcom, will kick off the luncheon with a quick welcome.

Sharra Owen-Schwartz will be for an interactive follow up to her keynote. Her presentation is titled, “Let’s Talk About the What’s and Whys of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” and will discuss what DEI means, what’s most important and why it matters.

Byron Smith, Vice President, Senior Mainframe Security Engineer, Systems Technology at M&T Bank and former Making Our Strong Community Stronger webinar panelist, will share his journey with DEI and mainframes.

Cynthia Coupé, CEO, Outreach Advocacy Resources and Services (OARS), Inc and moderator for the July Making Our Strong Community Stronger “Diversity You Cannot See” webinar, will give a presentation about “Neurodiversity at Work.” She’ll discuss the hidden gems and challenges of being neurodivergent and what are some issues in the workspace today.

On Thursday, September 22, Cynthia Coupe will be on-stage for a keynote presentation “Neurodivergency and the Mainframe: A Parallel Universe.”

Neurodivergency (autism, ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia) is a hot topic in today’s world. This session discusses the similarities between the mainframe industry and issues neurodivergent individuals face. Think there’s no parallels? Think again!

We’ll explore what being neurodivergent looks like, supports that are needed in the workplace, and what gets to change in the mainframe industry to attract new talent. Cynthia will discuss “Quiet Quitting” vs. “Loud Retention” and how some pointed changes can make all the difference.

Register today to attend Open Mainframe Summit on-site in Philly or virtually. Register here.

“Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.”