Helen NorrisHelen Norris of Chapman University discusses the rise of women in technology, the importance of inspiring young women in STEM areas, and how women could change IT.

We’ve been happy to share excerpts from interviews Sean Ferrel and the Managed Solutions team have conducted with Todd Stewart, VP of global infrastructure and IT operations for Western Digital; Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, one commercial partner with Microsoft; Jeremy Giacosa, IT director with Accriva Diagnostics; and Ken Lawonn, senior vice president and chief information officer with Sharp HealthCare; and Matt Webb, IT director with Mirati Therapeutics.

Now, check out Sean’s interview with Helen Norris, CIO with Chapman University.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

How are you inspiring young women in STEM areas?

I do a lot of work with different organizations in Southern California to support advancing women in technology. We do have a Women in Science and Technology group at Chapman. I have spoken to them on several occasions, and also connected them with other women leaders in technology. During Women’s HerStory month, we did an interview that we streamed on Facebook Live which was to stress to women, students, and faculty who don’t often see women in leadership positions in technology. I am also connected to STEM Advantage and Advancing Women in Technology (AWT); organizations that provides scholarships to women and underserved communities studying in STEM fields in different universities.

How do you think women could change IT?

I remember people had this image for IT of somebody in the back playing Dungeons and Dragons, eating pizza, and now that stereotype I hope is gone. Our work is really focused on what we can do for the organization and how you support the business. To support the business, you have to know the business and know what their priorities are. Otherwise, you are just a utility. I want to be an asset to the organization and learn the needs of the community.

Where do see technology in education in the next 5 years?   

The ability to use VR to train and educate people. That’s something that will continue to see growth in the next five years. We are beginning to look into it. For example, in the health sciences, we are already using virtual cadavers. That’s an area we are going to see massive growth. In the future, as patients, we may be treated by someone who was completely trained virtually.

What’s your philosophy on premise or moving to cloud?   

Moving to the cloud makes a lot of sense in a variety of ways. I think it’s harder to move to the cloud than we’re led to believe, with the first reason being cost. The other challenge we have in universities is that the cloud efficiencies of scale are really harvested because you go to a standardized model. Some things can be outsourced, but if I’m supporting researchers in data science, they need cutting-edge, non-standard technology that will remain on premise.

How about security?  

Security is always a major issue. We need to be open as a network and we have to balance that need with security. It’s much more difficult to dictate things students can and cannot do. We’ve always had students bring their own devices and we’ve had to manage that for a long time. Over the last couple of years, we’ve really focused on education and outreach. We work hard with students and do a lot of work on phishing campaigns and password management since we have a transient community. It’s a big deal in information technology and we think as a university setting we are a target. Hackers have used universities as launching pads since we maintain so much personal information.

(Editor’s note: To read the full interview with Norris, click here.)

-- Sean Ferrel, Managed Solution