Yesterday I attended a women’s event at ASG Technologies’ Evolve conference. Women in Technology always grabs my attention. I’ve participated in and led many such panels and am currently writing a research series about Women Leaders in Technology that will be published over the next few months. In these research notes, I will interview senior women executives in technology to get their perspectives on mentoring, career advancement, communication skills, leadership insights, pay gaps, and other topics vitally important to women in all stages of their careers.
This particular panel, chaired by Mary Wells, Senior Vice President of ASG Technologies, comprised:
- Sue Laine, VP Strategic Technologies, ASG Technologies
- Durga Yerramilli, Manager, Data Business Group GTM, Lead for Intelligent Data Discovery, Accenture
- Marci Maddox, Research Manager, Enterprise Content Strategies, IDC
- Maura Fitzgerald, Founder & Partner, Version 2.0 Communications
In addition to notes below, the panelists offered their thoughts prior to the conference in this blog post which explores: 1) what has your experience been as a woman professional working in the technology industry? and, 2) how will the future of technology be shaped by increasing diversity?
Here are some nuggets of knowledge and experience shared by the panel:
- Be your own advocate. Women spend much of their time waiting for someone to recognize what they did, instead of telling people what they’ve done. You must be your own advocate. Self-advocacy also includes understanding your company’s culture and how to thrive within it.
- Have a point of view about something important within the company and become the “go to” person for that set of ideas.
- Recognize that your career is built upon having relationships. That means don’t burn bridges because you never know when you will need them. It means to also cultivate work relationships.
- Make sure you have a support system outside the organization. Picking spouses, partners and friends that encourage you and serve as a sounding board is very helpful throughout your career.
- Find supportive male colleagues and enlist them in “making a space” for you. This could be, for example, when making introductions or supporting your participation and comments during business meetings.
- Follow this adage: Be a mentor and get a mentor. (Note from CMoore: Often the best mentors come from outside the organization.)
- Use your mentors well. Men often talk with their mentors daily and meet weekly, while women don’t use their mentors as well. Too often women try to get emotional support from their mentors, when they should actually rely on mentors to help build their skills.
- Stop apologizing. Many women apologize unnecessarily in meetings, conversations, emails, and other interactions. Notice that men rarely apologize and calibrate how often you do it.
- Self-check your words, which can convey self-consciousness or lack of confidence. One panelist noticed that she often uses diminishing words, such as “just” think about it, or “just” consider it, etc. and self-checks her communications to eradicate them.
- Know your worth and don’t settle for whatever you get. Instead, identify your own strengths and strive to get what you have earned. Don’t settle for things in your job, and don’t settle for things in life, as well.