Women in the tech field juggle many adversities, as there are various obstacles they are faced with every day. So, what does it take to excel in this area? At a panel this week hosted by The Female Quotient's Equality Lounge @CES, some of the top tech women trailblazers of our time offered guidance and advice, while reminding attendees how important it is for successful women in all fields to help other women fulfill their career aspirations. As moderator Aneeta Akhurst, Director of Original Programming at Seeker, said of the panelists, "You've all broken down barriers in the tech industry and widened the path for other women to follow."
The panelists shared four common qualities that lead to success:
- Never give up. This was the most common advice the panelists reinforced when discussing how they advanced in the field. Ishveen Jolly, CEO and Co-Founder of OpenSponsorship, spoke about blindly pursuing her passion to become a sports agent with the thought: "Anything is possible." She never let the world's negative views bring her down nor cloud her positive mindset. She knew that she was going to achieve her goals no matter what. She was determined to go after her dreams and let passion fuel her journey.
- Use the resources you are and are not given. The COO of what3words, Clare Mary Jones, shared her struggle with feeling lonely while she was working on a start-up. She took matters into her own hands and entrenched herself into a resource she knew very well, social media – especially Twitter. "Twitter has been a place where I found a bunch of peer mentors … and that has really helped me reach a much more diverse range of women," she said. "You're not limited to the people in the physical space that you're in that you get to meet."
- Remember that your voice matters. Sowmya Subramanian (Executive Vice President of Engineering at Discovery Inc) said she is intrigued by hearingother people's opinions. Your voice matters and needs to be heard. No one else has your ideas or opinions. Because of these voices, Sowmya, asserted, "[The] marketplace has a more diverse set of creators … and [they are] producing different types of content … so the rules of the game have changed from a content creation point of view."
- Think outside the box. CEO & Founder of The Workshop Whisperer, Rachael Evans, revealed that she was burned out by her five-day-a-week grind. Having dreamt about a four-day work week, and thinking outside the box, she started designating Mondays for her own tasks. She quickly noticed how much more efficient she was during the other four days of the week. Now, her entire business runs on a four-day week. Rachael acknowledged the positive impact this has had on her employees' productivity and credits their healthy work/life balance. "Sick leave has become almost non-existent … (and) productivity has increased because nobody wants to work on that Monday when they were supposed to have (it) off, so everybody is really conscious of deadlines," she explained.
Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Twitter, Rinki Sethi, touched on the importance and need for there "to be more role models and folks like us that are leading the way that then inspire the next generation of women that they can go and do something like this." With a goal to "get more girls interested in STEM early on," when Rinki worked at Palo Alto Networks, she drove one of the initiatives to go in partnership with the Girl Scouts to introduce the next generation to STEM.
These women attributed their successful careers to the support of those before them who helped shape a productive path to succeed in the field. While everyone in this career starts because of their love for the tech industry, their message was that we all can continue to nurture and expand that love for future generations of women in tech. Knowing that there is a support system can help empower future generations to make positive changes and push the industry forward in exciting new ways.
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