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FCW : January 2015
WOMEN IN TECH 16 January 2015 FCW.COM Graves: The people in our department say, “We don’t deliver IT. We deliver homeland security.” Because that’s what we center on every day. These are all the myriad of mission spaces that we have in DHS, and they all resonate. When we take that federal survey every year, it doesn’t matter what agency you’re talking about. That’s what people say drives them. It’s the mission. Bannon: As a millennial, that is incredibly important to me. I look forward to work every single day. The ability to improve people’s lives is hugely important to anything I would want to do. Conrad: For [GSA], that’s been the biggest draw in recruiting. It’s really the combination of mission and scale because there are many places that have an equally compelling mission, but not at the scale [of the government’s]. When you combine those things, you have impact that is really unparalleled. What we hear over and over again is that while there’s tremendous reward in building startups and doing really neat, cool things in nonprofits or academic work — the opportunity [in government] to have such a sustainable impact at scale, it just doesn’t exist elsewhere. Wynn: The work in and of itself just drives you. You get into it, it’s interesting, and every time you make a small step forward, it just fuels that journey. You just keep going. Evans: [Mission is] the most important thing. You’re not driven by the dollar. If you were driven by the dollar, you wouldn’t be [in the federal government]. Breaking into the boys’ club Nearly every woman in the group spoke of times when she was made to feel like an interloper. Body language, sports banter and outright sexism sometimes come into play, but so do basic, if unwritten, rules of business. Graves: There were a couple of men along the way who took a great interest to make sure that they broke down the barriers that were usually put in the way of women. Why IT? Because it’s the means to the mission. Although the paths were varied, the motivations were nearly universal: Federal IT combined the intrigue of new technology with a passion for the mission. “IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT WASN’T ABOUT ME, THAT IT WAS ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF ME BRINGING THE IDEA TO THE TABLE.” Tarrazzia Martin, Department of Housing and Urban Development 0115fcw_014-021.indd 16 1/7/15 3:12 PM
November and December 2014