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Tech support: Alumna creates fund to help women enter IT profession

Barb O'Malley standing outside the Northern Trust Company Building

Barb O'Malley '84 outside the Northern Trust Company building.

Barb (Kalscheur) O’Malley ’84 was one of few women in applied computer science when she began working for Northern Trust in Chicago 34 years ago. She has since led the lending applications team and development of client-facing tools, while engaging in the company’s Mentoring Matters and Women in Leadership forums.

Much has advanced in her field, yet there are still not many women in O’Malley’s profession. “Things have changed significantly, but at the same time they haven’t,” she said.

This reality motivated O’Malley to create the School of Information Technology Distinguished Student Scholarship with a $100,000 gift to the Redbirds Rising campaign. The fund will support primarily women considering information technology (IT) careers.

“I hope that I can create a little incentive for those considering the profession to pursue it,” said O’Malley, who helped ISU gain a cybersecurity sequence at the University while a member of the School of Information Technology Business and Industry Advisory Council.

“I want to make sure a college education is available to any person who wants to take advantage of it,” O’Malley said. “What if the next great leader in IT doesn’t go to college because of the cost?”

School of Information Technology Director Mary Elaine Califf is confident the fund will help attract students.

“Four-year scholarships are extremely valuable because students can feel secure in that financial help they are receiving,” Califf said. “Barb has been a wonderful supporter of the school for many years, and we’re thrilled that she has been able to provide this opportunity for students.”

Although preference will be given to female applicants, male students may be considered for the scholarship as well. O’Malley’s ultimate goal is to foster talent by supporting students of promise, regardless of gender, striving to make IT more inclusive for everyone.

“With the department being fairly new, there weren’t many scholarship opportunities,” O’Malley said. “I wanted to give back in a way that helped the computer science department flourish and maintain relevancy.”

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