Diversity Equity & Inclusion

VMware Ireland’s Global Support Team Celebrates Women’s History Month

As we continue to honour and celebrate Women’s History this month, we asked three Global Support, Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Ambassadors from VMware Ireland to share which historic women have made an impact on them. Read on to hear what they had to say.

Laura Bowell Support Services Manager & Global Support DEI Ambassador
  • Which historic woman has always inspired you and why?

Laura: There are so many inspiring women but as I must choose just one, it would have to be Helen Keller. I remember learning about her amazing life and contribution in primary school. She was born in the US in 1880. When she was 19 months old, she lost her sight and hearing after an illness. She went on to become a disability rights advocate and campaigned for women’s suffrage, labour rights and she was an author & lecturer. She was the first deafblind person in the US to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and she went on to attend Harvard University. Throughout her life, she toured globally advocating for people with vision loss. She was such an inspiration for my 7-year-old self.

  • This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Break The Bias”. What actions are you taking to help break gender bias in the world?

Laura: I’m delighted to be a DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Ambassador and to get involved in some of the work and projects that we do here in VMware Ireland. It’s so much a part of why I wanted to join VMware and our EPIC values. Just before the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to go to the iWISH conference in Dublin. It was such an amazing day to have the opportunity to talk to so many secondary school girls about what VMware does and to encourage them to think about a career in STEM. 

I am a firm believer in being the change that you want to see so I keep that top of mind with everything that I do.

Laura Bowell

Yvonne Murphy
Senior Staff Technical Support Engineer &
Global Support DEI Ambassador
  • Which historic woman has always inspired you and why?

Yvonne: I have chosen Grace Hopper. In 2014, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Grace Hopper conference in Phoenix, Arizona. This is the conference where Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the attendees that women shouldn’t worry about asking for raises, and should instead rely on “good karma” and trust that the system will eventually reward their work. Satya got in a lot of trouble for this but there were many inspirational leaders whom I learned about during this conference, including Grace Hopper herself (1906-1992).

Born in 1906, she joined the US navy in 1943 where she was assigned to develop one of the first program-controlled computers ever built. It is known to the world as the Mark I computer. In 1959, after receiving her doctorate in mathematics from Yale. Dr. Hopper developed the first compiler, A-O, a mathematically oriented single-pass compiler. The A-O project subsequently led her and her staff to create COBOL (common business-oriented language). This is a compiled English-like computer programming language designed for business use. This achievement is still revered today 33 years after her passing.

Before COBAL, low-paid women worked in punch rooms, working on large mainframes which were fundamentally typewriters with card punch equipment strapped to the back. In the 1970s these women transitioned from the punch room to becoming coders on the systems developed by Grace hopper using COBOL. A truly inspirational woman who led the way for women in technology!

  • This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Break The Bias” – What actions are you taking to help break gender bias in the world?

Yvonne: Here is what I’m trying to do to encourage change and “Break the Bias”. I believe that most bias is unconscious. Often in normal life, we don’t get to stop and analyze the essence of everyone we meet, we function by using patterns to process information more quickly. This is when stereotypes that play into our bias influence our rash judgments. I try and overcome this by being aware of it, also by being an ally for other women in VMware.

I hope I can be an example of how women can progress within technical tracks.

Yvonne Murphy

Kevin Gartland
Technical Support Manager &
GS DEI Ambassador
  • Which historic women have always inspired you and why?

Kevin: Veronica Guerin is a person from modern Irish history who has always inspired me. Perhaps it is the fact that we were both born and raised in the same ordinary suburb of Artane in Dublin. Perhaps it is that in many ways Veronica was an ordinary person who led an ordinary life, in the way that many of us do.

However, the reason that Veronica Guerin inspires so much is that when things became tough in her life, she dug in and held her own against a cohort of very unsavoury people. She stood by what she believed was inherently right and let her strongly held values guide her through difficult times.

Veronica Guerin worked as a journalist with the Sunday Independent and started her work reporting on Irish crime in 1994. She sought first-hand information from key sources, who were often dangerous criminals. She built close relationships with people on both sides of the law. She revealed links between Irish criminal gangs and the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist organization. Through her work she followed the money and pursued key drug dealers, interrogating how they financed such lavish lifestyles with no discernible income stream.

Despite repeated threats to her own and her family’s safety, she stood up to the criminal underworld and continued to fight for what she believed was right. She pursued the truth at an unbearable cost to her own life. Veronica Guerin was murdered in 1996 by members of a criminal gang she was investigating.

The ending of Veronica Guerin’s life continues to shock and reverberate with the people of this country. Her murder directly led to a public outrage so vehement that it changed the landscape of organised crime in Ireland forever. Following her death, new institutions such as the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Special Criminal Court were established that made it easier to divest criminal gangs of illegal gains and conduct trials free from jury intimidation. The story of Veronica Guerin is a sad story, all the more resonant as Veronica was full of joy and fun and mischief. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís. (We will never see her like again.)

  • This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Break The Bias” – What actions are you taking to help break gender bias in the world?

Kevin: I work as a support manager for a software company. Through my job, hiring key talent and team building are important aspects of my work. We have all acquired bias of one form or another throughout our lives. We instinctively seek out “people like us” where we feel assured that past successes will be repeated. I have learned that breaking bias is foremost about focussing on what a person is capable of, rather than focussing on who they are, where they come from, or what they look like. There are theories in psychological science that advocate that suppression of certain thoughts makes them more likely to surface. For instance, if I ask you not to think about a pink elephant, where does your mind gravitate to?

So, in response to the question of what I do to break gender bias, my answer is that I try to do as little as possible! I try as much as I can not think about gender bias at all. Instead, I channel my effort and energy towards the person I am with. I focus on what they are good at, where they are getting stuck, and what I can do to help them.

Kevin Gartland

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