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Feb. 11, 2021

Globally, women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, particularly in technology. Women make up half of the workforce, but they typically make up only 25 percent of the technology field according to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). 

Every February, the United Nations celebrates Women and Girls in Science Day to promote, educate and encourage gender equality in STEM fields. At BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina diversity in our workforce helps us innovate. 

As one of the leading technology companies in the Southeast, we know how important it is to have women at the table. Women working in technology here at BlueCross share advice and some lessons they have learned in their careers.

Renee McCormick Hover image

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“I have learned a multitude of lessons over my long career in the technology field.  One of the most important ways to accomplish great things is through teamwork and collaboration. I have been part of some excellent teams during my tenure at BlueCross. We always get much more done when we treat others with kindness and respect. That means you have to be willing to really listen to other perspectives and see things from different points of view. Our outcomes are always much better when we are able to challenge each other in a respectful way.”    
— Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Renee McCormick has worked for the company for 34 years. In her role she is responsible for all aspects of information technology, systems and data security.

Do the work

“Fifteen years ago, much of the conversation was about establishing equality by taking gender out of the equation. It feels like the tide has shifted towards acknowledging the differences in the unique and important contributions both women and men make professionally. My experience is that not only creating a diverse team but openly acknowledging the individual perspectives men and women bring really does result in more creative, resilient and successful teams. No matter where you are in your career, be the person who is willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work. Volunteer to write the first draft, run the query, draw on the whiteboard, create the report, recap the meeting, diagram the solution. It’s how you learn. It’s a way to create lasting value, and it serves as an example to teams that you lead that you expect hard work.” 
— Beth Hollowell, director of information systems client management, has worked for BlueCross for 14 years. 

Beth Hollowell Hover image

Be your advocate

Sonya Ridgill Hover image
Kate Lariscy Hover image

“As a woman working in tech, I have learned that it is very important for one to establish their brand and use their voice. As it is said, you are your best advocate, and it is important that you are not just working hard but also demonstrating what you bring to the table, your entire skillset — some of which may be soft skills that are just as critical to success as technical talent. Resist the urge to let only your qualifications, resume and great work effort speak for you. Through the course of my professional career, I have learned to be more vocal about my passions, while continuing to raise my hand to take on challenging projects. It is also important that you build networks and pursue opportunities that allow you to be in front of decision-makers and challenge you to enhance an already diverse set of skills. One of the most important things that you should do is find good, supportive mentors that can help you through your journey. There will be times when you feel that you are alone or you think that you can do things on your own, and that is simply not the case.”

— Sonya Ridgill, director of application development, has worked for BlueCross for more than 23 years. 

“There is an advantage to being a woman in IT. You bring different ideas and perspective to every table at which you sit. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You do have valuable input.”

— Kate Lariscy, a team lead in system support in information systems, has worked for BlueCross for more than seven years. 

Focus on resilience 

“You must persevere. Women going into science and technology has decreased over the last couple of decades. While there is not one reason why that is, I believe it is because women tend to be harder on themselves than men in school and work. When a less than desirable outcome occurs, we believe we’re not cut out for it. The greatest innovation has occurred through learning. Choose those times to learn and push through.”
— Lola Jordan, president of a BlueCross technology subsidiary company, has worked for BlueCross for 10 years. She is responsible for managing the complete daily operations of the company. 

Lola Jordan Hover image

Diversity is important

“There will be many days where you walk in a room and no one else looks like you. If you are in the room, you deserve to be there so use your voice and contribute to the discussion. Diverse points of views always lead to great discussion, which ultimately produce the best solutions. For someone just getting started, know that you have to be open to new opportunities. You may not know all of the answers in the beginning, but the growth — and the fun — is in the journey.” 
— Robyn Watson, a manager for ICT infrastructure solutions, has worked for BlueCross for 10 years. 

Robyn Watson Hover image

Knowledge is key

Shashi Tippabhatla Hover image
Brittnii Cooper Hover image

“Through my IT career, I have seen a steady increase in the number of women in the tech sector. The opportunities are the same for all in the tech sector. I think there is an initial hesitation for women to jump on highly technical projects. I was one of those women. I am proof that gaining knowledge and experience while working with a team of knowledgeable professionals is far more valuable than formal training courses and reading books on the subject. I found strength in looking up to the women in leadership roles, who encourage and support me. My advice is to be an avid and a committed learner, to always be aware of new and interesting developments in the technology arena. Find and join mentoring programs, so you can network with other women, exchange ideas and explore work possibilities. Whether entering an IT job or advancing in an IT job, what matters are only your capabilities, skills and strengths.” 
— Shashi Tippabhatla, senior business systems analyst, has worked for BlueCross for 10 years.   

“I found that technology is actually a great field for women because it fundamentally attempts to equalize power and neutralize gender biases. In IT, knowledge is power: knowledge of the system, knowledge of the infrastructure, knowledge of the processes, knowledge of the customer use cases. Knowledge is value. My advice is to empower yourself by accepting that there will be inadvertent biases while knowing that you have the power to squash them with knowledge.” 
— Brittnii Watts Cooper, a technology research analyst, has worked for BlueCross for almost seven years. 

Support other women

“It’s so important to elevate and support other women in Tech. Mentor, promote and build each other up. It’s amazing how much you can learn and grow by helping other women do the same. My advice for other women in tech is to be confident, be honest and be yourself. You have more to contribute than you may think.”
— Jamie Evermann, manager of infrastructure design solutions, manages a team of software and infrastructure solution designers and has worked for BlueCross for almost 17 years. 

Jamie Evermann Hover image

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