|In 1979, the telecommunications
industry looked dramatically different than it does today.
Back then, only 20 percent of American households were
wired for cable television and there was just one dominant
phone company. The Internet was still just a military
Lucille Larkin, one of the founding members of Women in
Cable, remembers the frustration of being one of a few
women in the cable industry's professional ranks. At the
time, she served as vice president of publicity for the
National Cable Television Association. To her, the lack
of women at industry conventions was unacceptable. Of
the 1,500 attendees at a major industry event, she recalls,
just four were women.
Yet in a male-dominated environment, there were some advantages.
In particular, it was easy for women to befriend one another.
In the mid-1970s, Larkin met Gail Sermersheim, who shared
her concerns about the shortage of professional women
in the industry. Men, they realized, had informal networking
groups, and women needed their own networks, too. Larkin
and Sermersheim decided that building an organization
devoted to the advancement of women might fill this void.
So together, in 1979, they founded Women in Cable, which,
in 1995, became Women
in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT).
As cable has been integrated into the larger and more
dynamic telecommunications industry, WICT has grown and
adapted. However, the organization's mission is the same:
to educate and empower women to achieve their professional
goals by providing opportunities for leadership, networking,
and advocacy. The organization hopes to realize its vision
of an environment at work, at home, and in our society
where women are valued for their contributions, absent
inequities in opportunities and recognition.
In just 20 years, WICT's membership has grown to include
more than 4,200 professionals, representing all facets
of the telecommunications industry. Twenty-two WICT chapters
and satellites offer local meetings and seminars, training,
and the exchange of ideas for telecommunications professionals
The organization's major events are:
Magness Leadership Institute
Established in 1994, the institute is designed to provide
women at senior- and middle-management levels with an
intensive yearlong leadership training and development
program. More than 125 fellows have graduated from the
program, including some of the most powerful women in
the telecommunications industry.
in Cable & Telecommunications Foundation
Created in 1985, the foundation is dedicated to advancing
the status of women in the telecommunications industry.
Its strategic focus for the next several years, dubbed
"Women in Executive Levels: Strategies for Success," revolves
around promoting an environment where women operate on
a level playing field without artificial barriers. The
foundation also publishes studies on salary parity between
men and women in the telecommunications industry.
In 1999, the Foundation published "Benefits of Balance,"
which compares work/life programs in the telecommunications
industry to others nationally. Launched originally in
1993 as the child-care initiative, this project is now
designed to determine how work/life issues affect the
productivity of the industry and to offer solutions and
tools for effectively addressing those issues.
Best Practices Initiative
This initiative, to be unveiled in 2000, will provide
a richly informative portrait of the current status of
women in the telecommunications industry. In identifying
the "best practices," the initiative will go beyond company
statistics to gather highly detailed information on pay
equity, diversity programming, leadership development,
management practices, and senior management's support
for these programs.
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