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Women's History Month 2023

Frances Chao

About the Author

Frances Chao
Quest Oracle Community, Board Member and DEI Committee Member
Providence, GVP of Enterprise Business System

Women’s History Month marks an opportunity to celebrate, support and uplift women. And at this time, I am reminded of both the people who had a strong influence on my life and Maya Angelou’s words, “Prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Be a blessing to somebody.”

There have been so many strong women leaders who I looked up to and learned from their experiences. One especially bright rainbow was my mother, an immigrant who started from scratch in a foreign country without knowing the language. Yet she was able to successfully run a restaurant, care for her family, and support her children through college, all while persistently facing obstacle after obstacle throughout her life. I am stronger for having witnessed her amazing capacity to both accomplish and care. Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to have had many strong women role models who had successful careers with work-life balance, and even enough left over to contribute to their community. I am proud to see many women leaders in the Quest community. There’s no doubt they have offered inspiration and support to many others.

What drew me towards the work at Providence is that beyond being a healthcare organization, it is a mission-driven organization founded by the Sisters of Providence. They too were resilient women leaders. The Sisters relentlessly provided, facilitated, and inspired care and support for all, especially the vulnerable and underrepresented against impossible obstacles.

Over the past year, I’ve heard from a few colleagues and friends that they were excited about my accomplishments in the last year and what it meant for our community – a woman leading one of the largest ERP transformation programs across the industries. I have since reflected on the importance of my role in my community, and my ability to impact, mentor, and inspire others, especially younger female generations.

With that realization held close, I’m honored to share this blog that might enlighten members of our community to support, celebrate, and share their inspirations with others, not only during Women’s History Month, but every single day of the year. May we each be a rainbow to somebody who is tired of the rain and just needs a bit of bright, colorful light.

Women’s History Month Background

Women’s History Month first began on March 7, 1982, to acknowledge women’s contributions to American society. In 1987, Congress passed the first joint resolution to designate March as Women’s History Month, which includes International Women’s Day, celebrated globally on March 8.

Did You Know? Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week.

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

For the first time in February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. Subsequent presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.”

Quest Recognizes Women Making a Difference in the Oracle Community

Quest is a community that has been extremely fortunate to have had women positively impact the organization and the community it serves, over it’s 25+ years of existence. It is impossible to name them all, but here are a few of the highly impactful women in and around the greater Oracle community (past and present).

  • Idella Kercher, Former Vice President of Customer Relations, Oracle JD Edwards
    Idella Kercher was one of the first JD Edwards employees and was instrumental in starting the JD Edwards User Group (now known as Quest). Idella, now retired, was a true customer advocate and a considerable influence on Quest’s culture of partnership and collaboration.
  • Sue Shaw, Past Chairperson, Quest Board of Directors
    Sue Shaw is one of the greatest champions Quest has known, encouraging countless people to get involved in the community and serving in several official capacity roles in the community, including as Quest’s second female Chairperson. As Chair, Shaw saw Quest through the challenging financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 and helped to set strategies that are still positively impacting the organization today.
  • DeLaine Bender, Former Executive Director, Quest
    DeLaine Bender served as Quest’s Executive Director from 2001 through the fall of 2008 and was a stabilizing force amidst uncertain times during her tenure, including PeopleSoft’s acquisition of JD Edward and Oracle’s subsequent acquisition of PeopleSoft. It was DeLaine’s leadership that established a partnership with Oracle and the creation of the COLLABORATE conference, a unique and successful collaboration of three Oracle user groups.
  • Rebekah Jackson, Vice President, Strategy & Product Management, Oracle
    Rebekah Jackson has served as the primary liaison between the Oracle PeopleSoft team and Quest since 2018. Rebekah has been instrumental in building a foundation of a strong and productive working relationship between the Oracle PeopleSoft division and Quest. This has had a significant positive impact on our PeopleSoft customer members and the greater Oracle ecoysystem.

Women in Technology Organizations

As part of honoring Women’s History Month, Quest compiled a list of organizations with a focus on supporting Women in technology. Here are just a few:

Oracle Women’s Leadership
Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) is a global development program with a mission to engage and empower current and future generations of women leaders at Oracle. With 117 communities around the world, OWL connects Oracle employees with inspirational mentors and give employees the tools to achieve their personal goals.

National Center for Women in Information Technology
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is the farthest-reaching network of change leaders focused on advancing innovation by correcting underrepresentation in computing.

Women in Technology International (WITI)
WITI is a global organization that connects over two million women in STEM with membership in the US, Hong Kong, Great Britain, Australia, and Mexico. WITI organizes events, meetups, career coaching, speaker events, and more across the US and around the world. The organization is dedicated to empowering innovation and building a future of inclusivity in the workplace.

Women Who Code
Women Who Code focuses on empowering women in tech and redefining the industry so that women are equally represented as leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members, and software engineers. The focus is on empowering women with the coding and programming skills they need to advance in their careers, educating companies on how to promote, retain, and hire women, and establishing a global community of mentorship and support for women engineers.

Dallas Fort Worth Alliance of Technology Women (DFW*ATW)
In May, Quest will be holding its BLUEPRINT 4D conference in Dallas, TX (May 8 – 11). To have a positive impact on the communities where we do business, we want to call out local organizations, such as DFW*ATW, which are related to our industry and Women’s History Month. DFW*ATW is a vital non-profit organization committed to increasing the number of women in leadership and strengthening the pipeline of girls entering technology fields.

Ideas and Resources to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Below are recommendations on how individuals and organizations can honor Women’s History Month and insight into what Diversity Best Practices organizations have planned.

Quest Opportunities
Make plans to attend sessions dedicated to Women in Leadership and Women in Technology at Quest’s upcoming BLUEPRINT 4D Conference, May 8 – 11. Here are sessions already planned:

  • Quest’s Women in IT Luncheon, “Taking Women’s Leadership to New Heights,” expert panel
  • WILL: Women in Lean Leadership
  • Transforming a Workplace Culture with Intentional Inclusion,” a case study
  • Building Inclusive Cultures to Increase Employee Engagement
  • And Women in Leadership and Women in Technology networking sessions

Visit Quest’s BLUEPRINT 4D Conference to learn more.

Get Engaged Locally
There are opportunities taking place in your local community. We encourage our members to research those opportunities and to evaluate how they can get involved, as an individual or as a company to support those important activities in your local community.

Virtual Opportunities
Since our members are spread across a large geographic area, here are virtual offerings this year to celebrate Women’s History Month. People can access virtual experiences, including tours of historically significant sites and much more, such as these:

Financial Support

Another way to show support for Women’s History Month is through charitable donations to organizations serving and increasing the representation of women in leadership, in technology or other areas of importance to you.

Activities From Within the Oracle Communities

Oracle – Oracle is a leader in the technology industry that relies on the leadership of women. This goes beyond the high profile CEO, Safra Catz, and other senior executives. Throughout the organization, Oracle stands out in this industry by the level at which it empowers women and benefits from their talents. Visit Oracle’s website to see how Oracle is celebrating Women’s History Month.

Kaiser Permanente – Kaiser Permanente (KP) has a long history of celebrating women at KP and Women’s History Month and has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Employers for Women. Some of the things that KP has done over the years:

  • Partnering with groups, such as Be Bold Now, a nonprofit that spotlights women driving change around the globe and reducing the gender gap
  • Spotlight remarkable women with ‘HerStory’ videos
  • Profiling women leaders in a series “Forging a Pathway of Success in Medicine and STEM”
  • Hosting experts, guest speakers, and networking events

Baylor University – Baylor also has a rich history of celebrating Women’s History Month. As an institution for higher education, Baylor has extensive resources for its faculty and staff. Here are highlights of the resources Baylor has made available:

  • Offering a Women’s and Gender Studies program, emphasizing the intellectual, artistic, political, social, economic, and spiritual contributions of women.
  • Holding Women’s History Month guest lecturers since 1995 – see 2021’s recording of Dr. Amy S. Greenberg, Professor of Women’s Studies at Penn State University – here
  • Publishing and highlighting the top 50 Influential Women of Baylor

Syntax – Syntax is one of Quest’s valued partners in the vendor community. Syntax has an internal program developed by an all-female committee aimed at promoting mentoring, idea-sharing, growth, and empowerment of the female Syntax workforce across all levels of the organization. Apart from supporting female tech thought leadership, Syntax aims to gather insights into challenges that women face in the Syntax organization and the IT industry. The Women in Tech program works to identify solutions to overcome these barriers and become more successful together by empowering current and future female Syntax employees and leaving a positive impact on the organization.

Thank you for joining Quest in celebrating Women’s History Month.

With gratitude,

Women's History Month 2023