With less than 20% of all technical roles being fulfilled by women, we know there is an overwhelming need for equality in the industry. But how would attending a Women in IT workshop help?
I was sceptical as I stepped into a room of 150 female leaders of the IT industry, thinking there would be a steady stream of complaints and stories of inequality in the workplace. The event was a networking workshop at the WiTH (Women in IT in Hollywood) event in LA last week. By all accounts we were there to learn more effective networking skills and expand our social and professional network – but how was this going to help more young women to think of IT as a fulfilling career opportunity?
The workshop was kicked off with a keynote from the co-founder, Nadya Ichinomiya, who set the tone for the event. This was to be a positive, forward-thinking space to support each other and learn new skills. Her opening statement instantly brought down any preconceived barriers and we were all set for an open and productive event.
Madeline Mann, Director of People Operations, Gem and Founder of the “Self-Made Millennial” You Tube Channel, then presented her networking strategy with tips and tricks on how to “cause a non-linear, 10-fold breakthrough in your networking game”.
A recent study, conducted by university researchers Sofia Bapna and Russell Funk, found that “women had worse networking outcomes than men. Relative to men, women met 42% fewer new contacts, spent 48% less time talking to them, and added 25% fewer connections on LinkedIn.” Armed with this alarming stat, we were ready and eager to improve.
Madeline’s session was inspirational and helped us to break through some of the barriers to start effectively connecting with others in the industry. Her strategy included fully engaging with the person you’re talking to, listening without thinking about your own agenda and most importantly giving back. Giving back could be as simple forwarding an article they may find interesting, introducing this person to someone who may help them or telling them about a social group them they would find interesting – work related or not, it doesn’t matter. “Giving back” as soon as you meet your new contact, sets the tone for the relationship and opens up a dialog to be continued.
Our workshop exercises meant we were happily networking with our conference counterparts and growing our networks instantly without even thinking about it.
For example, during one of the workshop exercises, one delegate was talking to the person next to her. She was involved in a charity who teach disadvantaged young girls the foundations of coding, so they walk away with a completed course in the subject. The person next to her worked for a large tech company and was interested in how they could work together to see how these girls could find a suitable position in her company.
This was when I realised what this event was really about and why they are absolutely necessary for women in the industry.
- Sure, we were there to learn to network but also (with the help of our expanding network) we were there to help ourselves and others grow professionally
- We were there to inspire, encourage and support each other to fully achieve our potential
- Most importantly, we were there to become ambassadors for other women already in the industry who may be struggling or who may want to join the IT industry
The under representation of women is one thing, but once women do have a role, they leave at a 45% higher rate than men. With the support of communities such as WiTH, full of motivated female ambassadors, I know that with time, these discouraging figures will improve.
Thank you to the organisers, speakers and panel members who made the event one to remember. I especially have to thank the brave couple of men who also attended the event last week. Your support was very much appreciated!
*Unless stated, stats taken from https://www.fastcompany.com/90...