Join us for an interactive session with Dr. Rati Thanawala at MIT

Dr. Rati Thanawala
Technology Executive and 2018 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow

What are the levers for early career success in tech firms? & How can women prepare while still in graduate school?         

When: Tuesday, December 3rd, 6pm to 8pm
Where: MIT Building 4 Room 149,
Address: 182 Memorial Dr, Cambridge, MA 02142

All NE GWiSE affiliates (Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts) are welcome to attend.

Light dinner will be served. Please join us! Please Register/RSVP at

The New England Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (NE GWiSE) Seminar Series presents this interactive session with Dr. Rati Thanawala, co-sponsored by Graduate Women at MIT (GW@MIT).

Dr. Thanawala will discuss why “early” career success is particularly important for people of “difference” (eg. race + gender, LGBTQ). And, why it is important to prepare for the new situations that are critical in the workplace but which are typically not experienced in college; which (non-technical) skills, if honed, can have a big impact, and what self/mindsets allow new hires to create higher impact.

Dr. Thanawala spent 39 years in tech, the last 17 as VP at Bell Labs. She came to Harvard as a 2018 Advanced Leadership Fellow. Dr. Thanawala has a PhD in Computer Science (Yale) and has worked in many tech domains – R&D, product management, new product introduction, etc. She is now creating a Leadership Academy for Women of Color in Tech, which pilots in Boston in March 2020. The pilot is funded by the Melinda Gates Foundation, and is open to students from the 9 schools that are part of NE GWiSE.


The transition from campus to the workplace is complex, and “potential” is judged very early by managers. This impacts key decisions, such as early assignments. Typically, lead roles on projects that have high importance to the organization and have visibility, are key to establishing a steeper career success trajectory.

Rati has interviewed women of color, who are succeeding in tech, and is using their stories to illustrate career challenges and solutions. Often, women of color experience situations which are not commonly seen by white women, and, almost always, the solutions are creative – they need to work within the norms of the tech culture as well as must counter the commonly held stereotypes of women of ‘difference.’

During the session, Rati will talk about her key insights. She will discuss her Leadership Academy which starts on campus for graduate students through two weekends of instruction, and, follows them to the workplace with quarterly instruction and external coaching by top successful women in tech. This continues until the women are promoted twice and/or selected to be on the high potential track. Then they graduate from the Academy – this could take 5+ years. This approach is designed to advance the creation of cadres of middle level women managers in tech, who, once they have reached a level of power and influence, will sponsor other newly hired women in their firms. This will create a “pull up” momentum, which will accelerate the other complementary efforts of the firm to improve diversity and inclusion.

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