Inclusive Innovation: A Year in Reflection

By Janet Olson

This article was published by Janet Olson, a member of our board, on LinkedIn in November 2023. As we at EOS look forward to the year ahead and the new heights we aim to reach in improving equity in classrooms across the country, we wanted to highlight this insightful reflection on the current state and future of the tech world.

Over the last few years, there has been an encouraging rise in the number of women venturing into the tech industry throughout the world. According to this Deloitte Insights piece, women were set to make up about a third of the workforce in large global tech firms by 2022. In 2023, that number has steadily increased as companies reaffirm their commitment to diversity.

This shift is helping to reshape the workforce as well as challenge outdated stereotypes, and create inclusive environments in innovative spaces. As I reflect on my experiences over the past year, witnessing this transformative trend firsthand has not only been inspiring but has also profoundly shaped my perspective on the industry’s evolving landscape.

Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to engage in multiple events to promote women in technology, semiconductors in particular.  In April, I was a panelist at GSA Women Leadership Initiative (WLI) to educate students about the opportunities in semiconductors. In May, GSA WLI sponsored a Board Readiness event where I had the opportunity to meet many amazing women in the semiconductor field.  In July, Cadence Design Systems India created an opportunity for me to speak to a large group of women at Cadence in both Bangalore and Noida locations. Their enthusiasm and drive was great to see.  The events in October were a great way to end the year.  The Cadence Women Conference (CWC) in San Diego was a great way to hear about inspiring women, meet fellow women and Cadence, and engage in ideas of how to encourage women at Cadence. Thanks to Cadence’s commitment to women, Cadence received an award at the annual GSA Women in Semiconductor Hardware (WISH) – an amazing event with powerful speakers such as Lisa Su and more than double the attendance of the previous year.  It was great to have multiple opportunities to engage with women and together forge the path forward for women in technology.

Promoting gender diversity in the early stages of life sets the course for growth both for individual women and for industries like EDA and the semiconductor industry. The work that Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) has been doing to make sure students from different backgrounds, including many young women, have the support they need to succeed in school and beyond has been incredible to witness. Equal Opportunity Schools provides a great framework for identifying students who can succeed but are often forgotten and then giving them the support and tools that they need to succeed in Advanced Placement classes and their academic careers.

The increase in women is a welcome influx of diverse talents; Women are bringing fresh perspectives, creativity, and problem-solving skills that contribute to the industry’s dynamic growth.

Gender diversity is necessary. It’s important. I believe that it is the future.

As we anticipate growth in groundbreaking innovations with a more diverse workforce, diverse teams will be a key part of a collaborative environment, breaking down conventional silos and encouraging cross-disciplinary thinking. The persistent growth of this trend suggests that the tech industry will evolve into a dynamic ecosystem where creativity knows no bounds and solutions are developed with a holistic understanding of our interconnected world. The future holds a tech industry that not only embraces diversity but also thrives on it, propelling us into an era of progress and innovation.

Janet Olson is a technology executive with a successful track record of driving product strategy and execution in two Fortune-500 semiconductor software companies: Cadence and Synopsys. Her recognitions include 7 US patents, Marie Pistelli Women in Engineering Achievement award & YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women award. She also serves on the board of EOS.