Overcoming Challenges for Women in Tech

Recently, North Highland’s Women in Tech (WIT) employee resource group (ERG) presented their first virtual panel event, which focused on addressing the role and challenges of women in technology and how to be a mentor, leader and tech champion. Hosted by Divya Reddy Bobbali, Sr. Data Analyst, participating panelists included:

  • Dianne Bernez, AVP of Inclusion and Diversity, Philanthropy, and Communications
  • Elizabeth Searcy, Vice President & Client Executive
  • Ashley Silfra, Program Manager

In addition to sharing their personal experiences and challenges as women navigating the technology industry, either currently or in prior roles, the panelists also discussed several key takeaways.

The Importance and Role of a Mentor

Mentors guide others in making smart career and personal decisions. A mentor can help you step back and see the bigger picture, is honest with feedback, and can help you recognize your strengths and weaknesses and, more importantly, your potential. Finding a mentor could mean looking within your related field, or outside of it -- potential mentors can also include people who are influencers in our personal lives.

Mentors have a profound and lasting impact on others' lives. If you are serving as a mentor, you need to establish trust and a safe place where the mentee can share with confidence. Mentors should be vigilant about listening rather than sharing – it is more about the journey of the mentee than the mentor. Acknowledge, listen and be welcoming so that the mentee can share and learn.

Building a Supportive, Female-Focused Community

Build your tribe both with your network of friends and within the industry. Get to know other women in your networks and organization through different ERGs. To champion other women, you need to know them. You can present opportunities as they come up within and outside the firm. Know their skills and competencies. Whenever there is a panel, committee, or leadership role, ensure that there is diversity in representation. Call out and question on how leaders can improve diversity and representation.

Strategies Organizations Can Implement to Support Women

The goal is to ensure that women have a seat at the table – at all levels within a firm. A firm must make intentional actions to have female representation. For example, having WIT and Women in North Highland (WIN) as part of North Highland’s employee resource groups enables women to network within the organization and brings attention to the challenges, requirements and opportunities women face for professional advancement. It’s also important to connect with local women - and technology-focused groups outside of your organization - to continue growing your network and finding new opportunities. Additionally, male colleagues can step up to be strong advocates and allies for their female colleagues by ensuring that the best person for the position is the best brain, rather than a specific gender at the table.

To learn more about this topic, also check out Today’s Female IT Leader is Tomorrow’s Change Maker from our True North Technology series.