A 2016 study by the New York Times revealed that Black and Hispanic workers who graduated with computer science or engineering degrees were more likely than their white and Asian counterparts to hold jobs outside the fields of technology or engineering. These biased-hiring practices have historically limited opportunities for people of color.
Despite these challenges, Marian R. Croak (1955–) has not only been in the forefront of the field, she has contributed to the expansion of technology, specifically Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), throughout her career.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), VoIP is the technology that converts your voice into a digital signal, allowing you to make a call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other data-driven devices. It may also be referred to as IP telephony, internet telephony, broadband telephony, or broadband phone service.
Croak began her career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1982. During her tenure, she served in various positions within voice and data communication. Among the more than 200 patents she holds in several areas, 100 are in VoIP. She has helped advance VoIP technology, including calling and text messaging on cellular phones.
Currently, Croak has more patents under review, and has applied for and been granted more than 350.
During her tenure at AT&T, Croak was aggressive in climbing the ladder. While serving as vice president of Services Network in Research and Development, she was responsible for more than 200 programs dealing with AT&T’s wireline and wireless services, supervising engineers and computer scientists who would assist her in running the programs.
She was later promoted to AT&T’s senior vice president of Applications & Services Infrastructure, where she supervised more than 2,000 computer scientists and engineers. She was also in charge of development, testing, service planning, and product realization.
Croak left AT&T in 2014 for a position at Google. There she served as vice president for site reliability engineering, overseeing hundreds of staffers who troubleshoot complicated software problems across the conglomerate. She was responsible for getting the internet into areas of the world where there was none.
According to a 2020 Wall Street Journal article, that accomplishment makes her “one of the highest-ranking Black female executives among Google’s roughly 200,000 full-time and contract workers.” Only 2.6% of Google’s leadership is Black.
Little has been documented about Croak’s early life. We know that she was born in Pennsylvania and that she often spoke of her father as having an influence on her success. Throughout her childhood, she said, he “pushed her to pursue her passion for science through as many creative ways as possible, such as building a chemistry lab in their home.”
Croak started out on her journey toward engineering and technology in the New York City public schools. She later attended the University of Southern California and Princeton University, earning a PhD in Qualitative Analysis and Social Psychology in 1982.
During a 2020 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Croak said: “I do care more about doing well at work, and yet many of the things I hear people say they’ve experienced, I’ve experienced as well. I feel immensely comfortable having white colleagues and friends and relatives, but sometimes there’s just this slight unawareness that we live in parallel universes.”
Image: New America – https://www.flickr.com/photos/newamerica/32576506570/