IBM Inventor A Minority, Female, And An Anomaly

October 27, 2018

Women and minorities in the technology industry are underrepresented and often white whales, purple giraffes, pink elephants, and even black swans. The Dallas News reports on one of these colorful creatures in the article, “Star IBM Inventor Fears Emails Can Be Brutal, So She Built A Tool To Fix It.”

Romelia Flores is Latina, female, and one of IBM’s top worldwide technologists. She holds 38 patents, including several “high-value patents” that have impacted IBM’s revenue stream, and she has 30 more pending. Flores works with clients to help design products and solutions to their problems in imaginative and innovative ways.

IBM has named Flores an IBM master inventor and she is extremely proud of that title. One of her favorite inventions is an email tone checker. Flores said that email is often impersonal and brutal, so her tone analyzer. She designed it after she was criticized for being too blunt in her communications.

The tone analyzer is apparently very smart:

“‘So before I hit send on my email, it flags to me, ‘Hey, Romelia, you didn’t put any courtesy verbiage at the front,’ or ‘Gee, Romelia, you were pretty direct at giving orders, so you might want to add a please here.’ “It even factors in the personality traits of the IBM recipient. ‘It’ll say, ‘Hey, she doesn’t respond well to directness, so maybe you should be a little nicer and lighten up your email.’ It’ll even propose verbiage for me. Is that cool or what?’”

The rest of the article is an empowering puff piece about an extremely intelligent female and minority engineer at IBM. It makes you wonder if this piece was written to demonstrate how progressive IBM is. Is Flores an anomaly at IBM? Let’s ask Watson? Well, Watson seems to be a male. Is that an issue?

Whitney Grace, October 27, 2018


One Response to “IBM Inventor A Minority, Female, And An Anomaly”

  1. Ricardo Gonzalez Llera on November 2nd, 2018 9:51 am

    “Well, Watson seems to be a male. Is that an issue?” – Not at all… I do not know why would anyone focus on this fact… I do not hear concerns with “Alexa” or “Siri” being female.. do you? Actually the fact that you focused on this fact and asked the question is the issue. There is already great division in our communities and your attempt to stir the pot further down this road is concerning. Bad choice.

    Now, in regard to Romelia Flores, yes she is a great, intelligent and very down-to-earth person. I have had the opportunity to work with her and it was a pleasure. But I would not consider her an anomaly. Not inside IBM or outside IBM. There are many, many intelligent women doing great things today in many different contexts. She is just an amazing human being that we are very lucky to have contributing to IBM’s mission.

    My two cents.

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