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FCW : August 30, 2014
women August 30, 2014 FCW.COM 15 It took a cup of coffee and an offhand comment to start a movement at the White House s Of ce of Science and Technology Policy. When U.S. Chief Technology Of cer Todd Park came to OSTP in March 2012, he inherited an of ce with no women. That May, Park hired Vivian Graubard as his special assis- tant. Graubard, an IT graduate from American University, said it was tough to be the only woman in the of ce. "When you think about work environments, when there s a team that s all male --- advisers, senior advisers and dep- uty CTOs --- and then have the only woman in the of ce, coincidentally, be the assistant...it didn t make for a very diverse or comfortable work environment," Graubard said. When she commented about it to Park over coffee, he promised he would make it better and immediately took action. "The women started raining down on our of ce," Grau- bard said. In the next year and a half, Park hired women almost exclusively, bringing in Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka and Twitter lawyer Nicole Wong, along with Lynn Overmann, Colleen Chien, Claudia Williams, Corinna Zarek and Erie Meyer as senior advisers. "If there was one person in his of ce who didn t feel comfortable going into work every day, then that was too much," Graubard said. "He made it his personal mission to make sure that changed." Now, the CTO s of ce boasts lawyers, technologists, CEOs and entrepreneurs --- and a healthy share of women leaders. The women who make OSTP tick The women at OSTP prove that no two government employees, especially government IT employees, are alike. Wong came to the of ce last June from Twitter, where she was director of legal products. Before Twitter, she spent eight years as vice president and deputy general counsel at Google. Apart from working at two of the world s tech giants, Wong jokes that her background is all over the place. She s a lawyer with a bachelor s degree in American studies, a minor in English, a fellowship in poetry and a master s degree in journalism. "What that means is there s a huge need for people outside of the core technologies to get involved because technology is touching all of our lives," Wong said. "Regardless of what your discipline was when you came into college or came out of college, I think you want people who have a diverse background of experience to be touching, understanding and in uencing technology." Overmann also has a law background --- another eld that is often dominated by men. She worked as a lawyer and a public defender for many years and joined the Justice Five years ago, the White House's tech policy shop was effectively a boys' club. But times have changed. behind BY COLBY HOCHMUTH The PHOTOS BY STAN BAROUH OSTP
September 15, 2014
August 15, 2014