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Blog | DEI | Diversity & Inclusion | Equity & Inclusion

Women’s History Month: Go Big or Go Home!

By | March 1, 2024

Written by Donna Hudi, Chief Marketing Officer at Phoenix Software and Chair of the Open Mainframe Project Marketing Committee

March is Women’s History Month and, as we kick it off, I am thinking about not only my own journey, but am excited at the thought of hearing about those of the other women involved in our community.

First, let’s get me out of the way…

I spent the majority of my career as a self-taught developer in the distributed world.  While I loved the creativity that came with writing code, what I loved even more was problem-solving and debugging.  Secretly, I think I always wanted to work on CSI.  I loved the hunt, following the clues, figuring out what was happening and why and then being able to ultimately solve the problem.  I was REALLY good at it!

Ten years ago this year, I made a shift.  I entered the mysterious world of mainframes!  I had no idea if I could do it, or what I was in for.  But, as I like to say, “Go Big or Go Home!”  So, I dove in head first and haven’t looked back.  I have met some of the smartest, most amazing people and have learned SO much!  I stepped in to a community that is like no other. (Learn more about Donna’s journey in this I am a Mainframer podcast).

During this time, I have been fortunate to be exposed to many different aspects within the mainframe world and community.  Not the least of which is having the opportunity to be involved with the Open Mainframe Project.  And today, I am excited to be adding a new role to my plate as the Chair of the Open Mainframe Project Marketing Committee.  I have been working on this marketing committee for the last several years and only hope that as Chair, I can live up to my predecessors.  I am excited to help tackle the challenges and the goals that lie ahead for the Open Mainframe and the projects within it.

Back to the topic at hand – Women’s History Month.  We all know about pioneers like Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace, but history can be made every day and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awe-inspiring Cheryl Watson.  She is known around the world for her passion and enthusiasm for the mainframe and the software that runs on it.  She is most well-known for her z/OS (formerly MVS) newsletter, Cheryl Watson’s Tuning Letter, published since 1991. I met Cheryl at my first SHARE in 2014 in Pittsburgh (I told you this is my 10-year anniversary) and I was blown away at the dynamo that is Cheryl.  There is no way I can give Cheryl all the credit she deserves for the impact she has had on the world of mainframes and on this community.  If you are intrigued and don’t know her history, I strongly suggest you check out her full bio which was part of a white paper created by NewEra Software and is available on their website.  Even though I have known Cheryl for 10-years, it did not take long to learn what a valuable resource she has been and how much she has been relied upon. I really had no idea of her amazing journey until I read her bio.  It is impressive.

Now, I have to say, if you have ever had the opportunity to spend any amount of time with Cheryl, you will quickly discover not only is she brilliant and an expert in many areas, she also projects a level of strength and confidence that I can only hope to have at some point.  For someone of such small stature, she is a giant among mainframers.

If you don’t know, Cheryl and her fabulous team are all retiring later this year.  While we are very happy for them, a colleague and I were recently remarking about the enormous gap she will be leaving.  She will surely be missed.  Cheryl will be attending SHARE in Orlando next week, if you have the opportunity to meet this incredible woman…take full advantage of it.

While I am spotlighting Cheryl, there is a long list of awesome women I have had the opportunity to meet and work with over this last 10-years and I am certain that there are even more I have yet to meet.  Within the Open Mainframe Project alone, I know some brilliant, driven women who should be taken seriously and that we can all learn from.  I know that I am doing my best to not only learn from them but to offer my support and assistance in any way I can.  I expect that we are going to hear some of their stories throughout the course of this month.  I don’t know about you, but I look forward to reading them all and getting to know the women behind the stories.  If you are a woman in IT and have a story you want to share, please reach out.  We want to hear it!

Additionally, you should mark your calendar for the March 13th Diverse Perspectives of Women in IT webinar which will be moderated by Dr. Gloria Chance, President and CEO of The Mousai Group, and hosted by the Making Our Strong Community Stronger (MSCS) Collaborative.  This panel promises to be one of the more thought and action provoking sessions you will attend.  I am honored to be participating and am looking forward to hearing everyone’s story and learning some valuable insights I can personally use going forward.

Read more here:

Register here:

Finally, I said earlier that history can be made every day and I believe that to be true.  How do we make history?  We do so not only through our actions and events, we do it by telling their stories.  Therefore, I will leave you with this challenge:  Take a look around you, and if you know of a woman in IT who deserves to be recognized during Women’s History Month, drop me some information (  I would love to get to know them and help introduce and highlight them to this great community more formally.