While Community Summit North America 2023 featured many incredible sessions, Women in Tech was, once again, a huge hit. I had the opportunity to moderate the panel discussion, which addressed factors contributing to the gender gap by touching on three core pillars:
- Mentorship, Allyship, and Community
- Individual Growth and Personal Empowerment
- Opportunities and Trends
The members of the panel included Jennifer Harris, founder and CEO of TMC, Deb Pfundstein, global partner development manager at Vertex, and Aleksandra Kulu-Ainsworth, manager and functional consultant at Mazars.
Mentorship, Allyship, and Community
Having a supportive network can make a huge difference in your career journey, especially one with mentors and allies who are there to share advice and celebrate successes. Mentees can learn from those with different experiences and knowledge by asking questions that will help with accomplishing goals and mentors can help by answering those questions and providing guidance.
Being an ally for women in tech means speaking up, encouraging others, and creating safe spaces. “If you’re trying to overcome something, if you’re looking to understand something differently, reach out to your allies. Oftentimes, they’re there for you and you may not even know it,” Deb encouraged.
Individual Growth and Personal Empowerment
From facing rejection to experiencing changes in your work environment, there will be a variety of situations you may encounter throughout your career. It’s important to be equipped with soft skills — such as strong communication, active listening, and adaptability — to help navigate these scenarios.
Despite holding many skills and qualifications, many women still have doubts about their abilities, which is commonly referred to as imposter syndrome. Acknowledging the impact of imposter syndrome and the significance of empowerment, Aleksandra shared, “We’re not frauds in our work, but it is okay to have a little self-doubt at times…I try and reframe things in a realistic tone…a little self-compassion can go a very long way.”
Opportunities and Trends
Raising the number of women in tech requires a corresponding trending increase in educational and professional opportunities. With the rapid changes of technology, there are more avenues to learn and gain experience, especially with the advancement of artificial intelligence (A)I and work-from-home becoming a norm.
“We need to invest in ourselves, find educational opportunities to improve our careers, and move forward…It’s our opportunity to make those trends to put ourselves back out there to take advantage of what we have now,” Jennifer noted. Having more resources and opportunities for women to invest in themselves will pave the way to empower future generations of women in tech.