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Creating a Culture of Respect in IT Leadership

Continuing our discussion with Chief Technology Officer Marlo Gaddis

Part two in a two-part series. View part one here.

Marlo Gaddis, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina, will be presenting four sessions and take part in a panel discussion at next month’s Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Miami.

In this interview, Gaddis discusses and highlights important aspects of the panel, #LeadHERship: Leadership, Lessons, and Life by Women in Technology. She makes it clear that although the panel will concentrate on women in IT, efforts related to recruitment, retention, and growth of leaders take a number of factors into account to increase diversity.

“When we talk about women in IT and women in education─women in leadership, I think the key piece is how we lead up, lead down, and lead sideways,” says Gaddis. “As a female who is now in a leadership position, I find that it’s my honor, but also my responsibility to make sure that I’m always looking at succession planning. I’m always looking at who I have in the department who is trying to grow. How do I help them?”

Gaddis feels fortunate to have had the support of both men and women throughout her journey and recognizes the importance of an all-inclusive approach. As she explains, “It’s not just about women supporting women. It’s also about men supporting women and women supporting men, quite honestly.” Additionally, she adds the need for women to support each other better when it comes to leadership positions:

“We find quite often in leadership that women do not always support other women. That’s something that we do to ourselves because of a competitive edge. The panel will discuss this at length─how do we help coach the people around us as we’re going through stuff? How do we coach the people around us to make sure that they are not only aware of differences?”

There are built-in biases that still need attention as women expand in IT leadership. Men are still often first addressed in vendor meetings, and a shift in consciousness requires repetition. Gaddis shares, “I have a staff member who sits with me at meetings, and when I first took on the job, we would be sitting with vendors, and they would speak to him first. [Sometimes] they would introduce themselves to him and not to me. After one of the meetings, [my colleague] said, ‘That was wrong,’ and I said, ‘Yes, but it’s not abnormal. We just learn how to manage that.’”

To Gaddis, it comes down to developing respect and appreciation for all workers as part of a culture that supports and cares. As she adds, “The truth of the matter is, it’s not a sob story about how women are treated. It’s about making sure that we acknowledge that there are differences and that when you know better, you do better. It’s making sure that we are treating all employees with the respect and understanding of who they are and making sure we’re taking care of the social and emotional wellness of all our employees. That is part of our mission.”

About Marlo Gaddis

Marlo Gaddis is the Chief Technology Officer for the Wake County Public School System. She served three other NC Districts of various sizes in the past as 21st Century Learning Coordinator, Lead Teacher for Technology (K-5) and Media (K-12); Lead Teacher for Math, Science, Social Studies and Technology (K-5); district and school Technology Facilitator; and Kindergarten and First Grade teacher.

Marlo serves on K12 Education Advisory Boards for the RTM K-12 Congress, Check the Privacy, Lenovo and Microsoft. She is on the Board of Directors for CoSN (Consortium of School Networking) and serves on the Executive Board as Secretary. She is a founding member of the NC CoSN (Consortium of School Networking) chapter and a CoSN CETL (Certified Educational Technology Leader).

Marlo Gaddis will be presenting at the following sessions and panel:

The 40th anniversary Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) will take place January 14-17, 2020 in Miami, Fla. Registration is now open at Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)

FETC 2020 40th Anniversary

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