Summit North America 2022 featured several incredible sessions, keynotes, and experiences. A highlight was the Women in Tech session, which occurred on Day 2 at the Legends Stage where hundreds of attendees flocked around the stage, filling every seat and the standing room. At the session’s beginning, Gayle Keller presented the keynote, “Sustainable Empowerment: Taking Calculated Risks in Your Career.”
Gayle Keller is the Chief Reinvention Officer of Gayle Keller, LLC. As a previous member of the Microsoft community, Gayle is passionate about advocating for women in technology and filling the gender gap as the host of the Theodora Speaks podcast, a bestselling author, and an executive and corporate advisor. She also has an online curriculum on reinvention and works with corporations and universities to empower women to take calculated risks and reinvent their professional lives.
If you want to hear more from Gayle, you’re in luck! She recently released her book “Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead,” in which she uses storytelling to share the experiences of five different women in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
While Gayle shared many valuable insights, here are some top takeaways from her Women in Tech keynote.
Imposter Syndrome and Closing the Gender Gap
Gayle shared an example acknowledging how women tend to be more risk-averse than men: There’s a job posting on LinkedIn. A woman reviews the job posting and deems herself unqualified, whereas when a man sees the posting, he decides to apply anyway and learn the skills he didn’t already possess. Many Women in Tech attendees shared that the idea of imposter syndrome resonated with them, and that they had personally experienced something similar to this scenario.
So, how can we, as women, empower ourselves? What can we do to change that mindset? How can others contribute to closing the gender gap?
It may require you to take a leap that you might be hesitant to make. It certainly requires empowering the women around you. Also, women aren’t the only ones who need to take part in changing this mindset and closing the gender gap; it’s a team effort that requires allyship.
After highlighting the need for allyship, Gayle introduced the concept of sustainable empowerment. As Gayle peeled back the layers of this concept, she emphasized that “sustainability equals people — it equals you.” Sustainable empowerment involves your happiness, wellness, mental health, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging. If you feel like you have an impact through your role, your company will see that.
Sustainable empowerment is also about your employees — are they happy in their roles and do they feel that sense of purpose? Recognizing this is the same as recognizing if your employees aren’t happy or productive in their roles. You want to have the right people in the right roles. With sustainable empowerment, retention will increase while strong attrition decreases. At the same time, top talent and top acquisition will also increase.
So, if you don’t feel that sense of purpose, belonging, and impact within your role, it might be time to take a calculated risk.
Gayle dove into calculated risk-taking, defining what that means, how to identify when to take the leap, and how to determine what steps you need to take. Calculated risk-taking takes courage, clarity, and competence.
Are you thriving or merely surviving? If you’re not feeling confident in where you’re at right now, it might be time to take a calculated risk. Taking a calculated risk means that you have considered all the factors before making a decision and taking the first step.
So, how do we take calculated risks? Put simply, you take it one step at a time. First, have a mind map. Consider how your personal and professional lives intertwine. You can brainstorm your mind map concept by writing out keywords of your ideas. Having your mind map on paper can instill confidence to take that calculated risk.
Once you have your ideas out in front of you, start drafting how you can accomplish this step-by-step. What first steps do you need to take? Who do you need in your boat to get you sailing forward? What do you need to do to equip yourself? You might have to fail forward a couple of times but remember to keep taking things one step at a time.
Having a mentor, sponsor, or advisor can help in the risk-taking process. A sponsor is someone who can help you rise in the ranks by challenging you and holding you accountable.
The Women in Tech session was nothing short of empowering. By the end of the session, the women in attendance were emotionally moved, as they expressed how much they needed to hear the topics covered in the keynote and panel discussion. After the session concluded, many women came up to Gayle and the panel sharing how encouraged they felt to take the leap that they have always been hesitant to make.