I had the opportunity to moderate a roundtable discussion, Women in Technology – What Can We Do Now? which focused on:
- Raising awareness for Women in Technology;
- Spurring conversation to move past barriers; and
- Equipping each of us to help move our companies forward.
To delve into this important topic that will affect our workplace for generations, Genesis10 invited this distinguished panel to share their perspectives.
By the numbers, according to NCWIT, only 5% of CTOs of Fortune 1000 companies are women.
As professionals we have to remember that just because we see our organization as diverse, it does not mean that it is inclusive and that there is equity. As the panel’s moderator, I don’t believe this blog does the issues justice. The one-hour packed discussion yielded insight after insight. I encourage you to listen to the recording, to include hearing from Mackenzie Peters, a Genesis10 Dev10 Associate who shares her story of how late in her college career studying to be a graphics designer she was required to take coding classes which sparked her interest to change career paths to coding. Three months after graduation, Mackenzie is a certified full-stack developer with one of the top employers in Milwaukee. Her advice: Invest in yourself, regardless of where you are in your career.
Oddly enough for Mackenzie it was not a mentor, a college counselor or a professor who encouraged her to consider coding. To affect meaningful change, we need to be exposing the young to coding and other technology professions as early as elementary school. Like the old adage goes, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” As a parent, I am a big proponent of encouraging my daughters to take a class or a summer camp program to gain exposure. Building on Mackenzie’s advice to invest in yourself, other actionable tactics from the panel includes:
Use return to the office as a way to model new behaviors
Eric Simonson noted that the talent shortage, our hiring decisions, how work is assigned and even the disruption created by the pandemic all create opportunities for change. He also noted that when we think about solving problems for women, we need to think more broadly. “We have a chance to make work better for everyone.”
Dig into the data
Mandy O’Dell highlighted how she is a big fan of data but warned that data can mask reality. Data is important, but there are nuances. We need to understand the type of work women are doing.
Don’t self-limit & let biases blur your thinking
Terry Hogan shared that generations of societal biases is the culprit. Even though each of us probably think we are not biased, at some level we have beliefs of the type of person that should fill a position or the expected behavior in the workplace based on your gender and role.
In a time when we are hearing on the news stories about the hostile or toxic workplace, a focus on culture is a business imperative. A single initiative, Diversity and Inclusion Training or appointing a Chief Diversity Officer will not be the silver bullet to raise awareness, instill change and alleviate gender inequality. In order to think differently, we need to start talking about societal biases to:
- Create awareness;
- Look to each other and our leadership to demonstrate the behaviors and lead by example; and
- Be intentional to inculcate change.