Women in Tech & Leadership Series (Part 3)

Why Women in Tech & Leadership: Bringing it All Together.

Here in Part 3, check out some inspiring final thoughts on growing confidence and leadership skills, how women support each other in tech, and why it matters.

— In case you missed them, don't forget to check out Parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part series, "Behind the scenes at CU: Women in Leadership," and "Women in Tech."

On Leadership and Projecting Confidence

All three of our women leaders stressed the gravity for girls and women to learn confidence in growing satisfactory careers. Tracie shared how learning this from her mentor and former director led her to her position today, describing her constructive pointers. “She used a lot of teachable moments. That’s definitely something I’ll use in my new role, trying to lead people through teachable moments.”

Stephanie described the importance for women to overcome societal messaging and learn to negotiate on their own behalf. “Don’t let anyone—yourself, the media, someone close to you—tell you you’re not worth asking for what you want. I mean, what’s the worst they can say, ‘no’? You just keep going.”  

Similarly, Annabelle, described confidence as the greatest attribute she can teach her daughter, preparing her for all aspects of life. “The advice I give her is just to be confident. Project confidence. Just that one little bit helps with a lot of different things.” 

Confidence is essential, but what’s the employer’s part? Tracie, Stephanie, and Annabelle all experienced understanding and accommodation for working parents; this creates more opportunity for women to advance. They also felt there is opportunity here (regardless of gender) for those who show ability and desire. Says Stephanie, “That’s what I like about CU—what I’ve seen is, ‘are you capable and do you have the want?’ I don’t think there is any limit on your advancement.”

The Importance of Encouraging Others

As in leadership, all of our women working in tech talked about the importance of mentorship in their careers, and why they try to foster and encourage other women coming up in their fields.

Speaking of her work in the Philippines, Sheina said “On most of my projects, I was the only girl, so it can be hard to know how to participate.” Her mentor taught her to speak up and how to advocate for herself. She says she's conscious about taking on this role herself now with other young women who are new to the field. “I try to do what my mentor did for me and help her in her career.”

Kelli described why these supportive relationships are essential. “I feel like we’ve always just been told, ‘you’re not good at that’” she says. “And even if we are good at that, we still believe we’re not!"

To that, I loved Dawn’s advice for anyone starting out: “you are as smart as everybody else and you can do it. I know that sounds so corny, but it really is the bottom line. Don’t limit yourself because you think you can’t do something, and don’t worry about what anybody else thinks ever.” 

Despite the fact that women working in tech has real implications for businesses bottom lines, they've been on the decline for 20 years. But those interested should know that other women (and men!) in the field will support and encourage them. Kelli says, “my entire career I’ve been an outlier, so I’ll always be interested in fostering women who are interested in any kind of STEM career. It’s so important and it’s kind of an open frontier for women right now.”

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This article was originally written by Computers Unlimited. Last Modified 2020-05-07.