In celebration of International Women's Day, we're looking back at interviews with women in telecommunications who have made a lasting difference for their organizations and the generations of women coming up behind them.

Kelsey Ziser, Senior Editor

March 8, 2024

4 Min Read
Rear view of four women with arms around each other in support of International Women's Day.
Who runs the world?(Source: SouthWorks/Alamy Stock Photo)

Happy International Women's Day! To celebrate, we're taking a look back at the many accomplished women in telecommunications who have made a difference in closing the gender gap by overcoming imposter syndrome, demonstrating how to champion each other's career wins, and by being movers and shakers in developing the technology powering today's networks.

Here's a look at some of the women in comms making a lasting difference both for their organizations and the generations of women coming up behind them:

Verizon's Beth Cohen on overcoming imposter syndrome

Verizon's Beth Cohen joined Light Reading at the Big 5G Event in 2023 for a Women in Comms fireside chat to discuss how she's worked to overcome imposter syndrome in her career in telecom. A well-known name in the industry, Cohen is a cloud technology strategist with Verizon and has been with the wireless provider for over a decade. She works on developing Verizon's cloud product strategy, built a process to migrate 10,000 applications to a private cloud, and developed the support system for a VPN product line which brought in $5 million in revenue for the company.

"I've been responsible for bringing a number of products into the company including Secure Cloud Interconnect, which last time I checked is a $50 million business," said Cohen.

Take a look at the video interview with Cohen here.

Verizon Business' Debika Bhattacharya on mentorship

In 2021, Light Reading spoke with Debika Bhattacharya during a fireside chat at Light Reading's Big 5G Event in Denver to discuss the role mentors and sponsors have played in her career and what she sees as the current biggest barriers for women in the industry. Bhattacharya is the chief technology solutions officer for Verizon Business and has been with Verizon for nearly 20 years.

"Open the table, invite as many different women with different points of view and different backgrounds that you can get for resumes so that the team, the organization, the enterprise, the corporation is so much more robust and successful," said Bhattacharya.

Check out our conversation with Bhattacharya here.

Boingo's Rebecca Gray on championing women in leadership

In a mentor spotlight, Boingo's Rebecca Gray discussed how having the opportunity to work with female pilots during her internship at a helicopter squadron in the Air Force Academy left a lasting impression and inspired her career trajectory. She shared how seeing women in traditionally male leadership roles has been a bright spot in her career, and how she's utilized skills from her military career in her tech and telecom roles.

Gray joined Boingo Wireless in 2022 as SVP and GM of the military team that works closely with the Department of Defense and more than 75 Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Homeland Security Training Center locations worldwide to provide wireless services for the military.

"There was something to be said of looking at, seeing, other women as pilots, getting in that aircraft and flying with them," Gray told Light Reading. "Their day-to-day job was really impactful for me and showed me some opportunities that I would have never considered … It really opened my eyes to some different opportunities."

Read the full interview with Gray here.

Google's Prajakta Joshi on creating programs to support women in comms

During a fireside chat at the Women in Telecommunications Workshop at the 2021 Big 5G Event, Google's Prajakta Joshi shared her insights into how organizations can develop informal and formal programs to support women's upward career trajectory. Formerly a group product manager for Google Cloud, Joshi is now a director of product management at YouTube, which is owned by Google. Joshi has worked for Google for nearly ten years, and previously held software engineering positions with Brocade and Cisco.

"Just because you diversify the workplace doesn't mean it's going to be inclusive," Joshi said. "We started looking at providing communities and safe spaces."

Read more about the conversation with Joshi here.

Cox's Patricia Martin on closing the gender gap in the cable industry

Bringing it full circle, we'll revisit a Mentor Spotlight from International Women's Day in 2021. Patricia Martin, former SVP of service assurance at Cox Communications, spoke to Light Reading about why every employee needs to take responsibility for cybersecurity, how the cable industry is addressing the digital divide and what progress is being made in closing the gender gap in cable.

At Cox, Martin revamped the cable company's Network Operations Centers (NOCs), improved the process of monitoring and responding to network events or incidents, and led the charge in creating the first national team of virtual construction estimators and Cox's first-generation Video Back Office National COE (Center of Excellence).

After over 16 years with Cox, Martin joined as president at Point Broadband, an ISP in Virginia, in January 2024.

Read the Mentor Spotlight with Martin here.

About the Author(s)

Kelsey Ziser

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kelsey is a senior editor at Light Reading, co-host of the Light Reading podcast, and host of the "What's the story?" podcast.

Her interest in the telecom world started with a PR position at Connect2 Communications, which led to a communications role at the FREEDM Systems Center, a smart grid research lab at N.C. State University. There, she orchestrated their webinar program across college campuses and covered research projects such as the center's smart solid-state transformer.

Kelsey enjoys reading four (or 12) books at once, watching movies about space travel, crafting and (hoarding) houseplants.

Kelsey is based in Raleigh, N.C.

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