Ann Doyle is the Community Engagement Manager for Internet2, where she liaises with over 100 institutions to assess their needs and inform Internet2’s mission and goals. She founded and continues to lead cultural initiatives working with US and international partners in the arts and humanities, such as the very successful Network Performing Arts Production Workshops.
Ann is a pioneer of our R&E community and her professional career has played a crucial role throughout the years in the development and fostering of global partnerships aimed at improving our services and helping the community grow.
Interview by: Silvia Fiore, GÉANT
Ann, you have been with Internet2 for over 20 years now and even longer in the education field. You have gained invaluable experience in funding, leading, and promoting cultural initiatives not only across the USA but also globally. You are a pioneer of our community and also a woman in the internet world, which is still a boys’ club. Can you tell us more about your experience building and promoting Internet2’s programs on advanced networks as a woman?
Thank you, Silvia, for taking interest and highlighting women leaders in Information Technology, especially with the goal of promoting future leaders. I have reflected, since you reached out to me, on being a woman in IT. And I want to share why I feel hopeful.
When I first started my career in IT, at a small tech firm, management expected my male colleagues would be successful, they invested time mentoring them, and they made sure that they succeeded. As a woman, I needed to prove my competence, over and over, and I felt management was watching and waiting for my mistakes. This did not promote confidence! And I think confidence is critical for success as a leader.
In my 20+ years with Internet2, I am seeing many more women in the IT sector than when I started – and we look out for each other, all across the globe! And there are many male advocates and mentors now that are willing to share the knowledge they gained from many years of being “on the inside track” when women were not. My work life has improved so much over the years, and if we can stay with these positive trends, I am hopeful for our future workforce.
We are curious to know what first sparked your interest in working in the education sector and what kept you motivated to being Internet2’s face fostering global partnerships across all continents?
For me, it is the people in the education sector – my colleagues tend to be interested in life, interested in learning about new cultures, about differences, and embrace learning about and inventing new technologies. As a musician, the initial opportunity to join Internet2 and launch our cultural and performing arts initiatives was the opportunity of a lifetime. When this initiative quickly became global in nature – and I will point out, with my cherished colleague Claudio Allocchio, who respects women as his equal and is a great partner in this adventure – I was continually motivated and inspired.
For a period, I led Internet2’s Global Programs, and it is there that I learned from so many women all across the world – GÉANT’s own Cathrin Stöver was one of the women who I was privileged to learn from and work with toward building an inclusive global IT community.
In March 2022, we launched a women in STEM campaign, an opportunity to celebrate their achievements as well the progress we are witnessing in terms of greater female representation in the internet world, but also a moment to reflect that we can do more. You have always been working with students, at the University of Michigan first and now at Internet2, including organising the Network Performing Arts Production Workshops that feature the latest technologies for remote music production and performance. What do you think higher education organisations can do to ensure better female representation in STEM and more inclusive work environments?
I believe we need to work hard and be creative in where and how we recruit new talent, and we need to be intentional about building a diverse and therefore strong workforce. As we build that workforce, we need to pay very close attention to the subtle dynamics in the workplace that impede, in any way, the success of our next generation of leaders.
Working with partners all over the world, you must have connected with hundreds of women holding technical roles. One of the conversations in our campaign was about women’s networks and how female peers with the same challenges and ambitions connect, support each other, and come out stronger. Throughout your many personal and work experiences, have you ever seen this power in action?
I would like to share my favourite story about this. Years back, Emma Smith from Jisc was interested in expanding cultural initiatives in the UK. She had attended the performing arts workshop and she wanted to gain hands-on expertise. I realised that, while I was building partnerships, I was not actually using the technology myself. So, we decided, without telling anyone, that we would try to configure and use the applications ourselves (with no one watching and judging our mistakes!). I snuck into my office’s technology lab in the US and Emma was in her lab in the UK.
I will never forget the day we solved our big problem (the port needed to be configured to full-duplex) and we got the first codec to work. Then we were very excited and got the second application successfully running. Soon, we had three high-bandwidth connections running between the US and the UK when the head of Internet2’s technical services group came running into the lab and said “What’s going on in here?! Who is in here?!” I said, rather proudly, “It’s me, Ann Doyle, running some connections with Emma Smith in the UK!” He started to laugh and said “Well done, Ann Doyle! You just saturated and brought the office network down!!”
Lastly, do you have any words of advice for female students aspiring to a career in STEM?
Yes, believe in yourself, and ask for help from each other and from male advocates. When you have gained your success, become a mentor to those around you. Trust that you can make a difference and be part of creating a better workforce of the future.
Explore Internet2’s activities by visiting https://internet2.edu
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