Empowering Women's Success in Technology

Attracting, retaining, and developing female talent across the world is not only essential to IBM’s company culture, it’s a business imperative.


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At IBM, our women feel empowered to do their best work. We understand the value of supporting others towards achieving their goals. Hear from some of our star IBMers give advice to women who are interested in tech.

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Our Tech Re-Entry Program is for talented professionals who took a break from work and are looking to restart their careers. Hear Jill’s story.

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We don’t stop at beautiful code. We research, design, implement and test to make full-life cycle software products and tools.

Meet the IBM women who are changing the world

Facts and Figures

Source: 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report


Women promoted to executive positions


Executive hires were women


Digital badges earned by women

IBM’s History of Empowering Women

























IBM hires its first female employees; Lilly J. Philp, Nettie A. Moore and Emma K. Manske. This occurred 20 years before women won the right to vote. In 1924, these employees help inaugurate IBM’s first Quarter Century Club.

Women join IBM’s first Quarter Century Club, created to honor employees with 25 years of service.

Virginia Linkenhoker organized the first Customer Training School and oversaw its operations. She joined the company in 1926. Later in 1935, she became the first woman Systems Service professional.

IBM hires its first professional women, 25 college seniors recruited for Systems Service. They were graduates of IBM’s first women’s systems service class at Endicott, N.Y., in 1935. 

"Men and women will do the same kind of work for equal pay. They will have the same treatment, the same responsibilities and the same opportunity for advancement."
– IBM founder, Thomas J. Watson Sr.

*This was almost 30 years before the US passed the Equal Pay Act

The first disabled blind female employees begin working at IBM. Eleanor Habas, a blind IBM dictaphone transcriber working at IBM CHQ in New York City, is awarded Victory Bond award from the NYC comptroller.  Habas joined IBM in May of 1941. 

 First woman vice president, Ruth Leach – we believe, the first woman to be appointed to such a position in corporate America

Marguerite L. Rounds becomes the company’s first female factory foreman.       

 IBM appoints Jeannette Kittredge Watson,  as the first female member of the Board of Directors.

Jean E. Sammet joins IBM as a programmer after having been on the team that designed the COBOL programming language. Also a historian, Sammet wrote a book in 1969 documenting the history of programming languages.

 Dagmar L. Arnold, an IBM industrial designer at the company’s San Jose Plant, is the first woman at IBM to receive a United States patent. The patent is for Miss Arnold’s contribution to the external design of the 1301 Disk Storage Unit

Judith J. West was the only woman engineer working at Cape Kennedy representing IBM on the all-male board of NASA stage contractors. She was responsible for receiving and approving program changes made to the Instrument Unit recommended by the IBM Engineering team responsible for automation.

Judy Durham, Federal Systems Center (FSC) Telemetry Retrieval Systems manager joins IBM Houston in January 1967. Her first assignment was to write the lunar orbit program for the Apollo missions. Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to travel to the Moon, was her most vivid memory from that time. 

Gail Johnson worked on the Apollo program writing programs for the world-wide tracking network that monitored the spacecraft.  Johnson started working at IBM in 1963 after earning a degree in mathematics.  After a chance encounter with a computer in a Philadelphia museum, Johnson decided to pursue programming as a career.  In 1968 she was featured in an IBM advertising campaign. 

Jane Cahill Pfeiffer, who would later become IBM's second female vice president, is the first woman to participate in the White House Fellow Program.

Janice Lourie is the first IBMer to be granted a patent for software.  Lourie used the IBM System/360 to connect to a textile loom and used the computer to design patterns that the loom would weave into the fabric automatically.  This technology was first on display at the IBM Pavilion at the 1968 San Antonio HemisFair.

IBM elects Patricia Harris, the first Black woman, to the Board of Directors. 

IBM hires Sandra K. Johnson, the first Black women with a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering.

 Frances Allen — part of the first generation of women scientists who joined IBM Research in the 1950s — becomes the company’s first female IBM Fellow. This elite award honors her sustained history of technical achievements and business accomplishments. It recognizes her strong potential to make continuing contributions to IBM and the industry.

Abby Kohnstamm, who has led IBM’s marketing organization since 1993, becomes IBM’s first female Senior Vice President.

Longtime IBMer, Fran Allen becomes the first woman to receive the prestigious Turing Award for technical contributions to the computing community.

Chieko Asakawa becomes an IBM Fellow in 2009.  As an IBM research scientist who is blind, Asakawa researched and created new technologies to help people who have visual impairments.

IBM Board of Directors elect Virginia M. Virginia M “Ginni” Rometty as the President and CEO of IBM.

The global nonprofit Catalyst works with companies to “build workplaces that work for women.” IBM has won the Catalyst Award for “innovative organizational initiatives that address the recruitment, development, and advancement of all women” four times since 2015—one of only three tech companies to win the award.

IBM's Be Equal initiative launches with the aim to engage IBMers, customers and society at large in promoting the advancement of gender equality in business leadership.

Awards and Recognition

Top companies for woman technologists
100 best companies 2019 - working mother
Top 50 STEM workplaces - winds of change manazine - 2019
Top companies - executive mother
5 companies to supporting woman in the workplace
Working mother - best companies for multi-cultural woman 2019

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