Girls Can Do IT! Women in Tech Leadership

October 7, 2020 Flora Lui

It goes without saying that there is a huge diversity problem in the tech industry. Little change, much less progress, has been made. The workforces of the five largest tech companies on the planet are made up of just 34.4 percent women. Indeed, the challenges women face around career advancement, management support, and unfair compensation force more than half of them to leave the sector altogether. It is long past time to challenge the status quo and prioritize gender diversity in technology.

What makes women want to choose a technologist role as their career? In this talk at SpringOne 2020, we were joined by three IT leaders and active Tanzu vanguards: Kelly Schaffer, senior director of IT at OneMagnify; Shuchi Mittal, director of Formation Labs for Fiserv; and Miranda LeBlanc, solutions engineer at Liberty Mutual Insurance. They shared their experiences, challenges, accomplishments, and advice on how to succeed in the IT industry.

Changing perceptions

“When I first joined IT, I was the only woman programmer and everybody kept coming up to me and saying, ‘Are you one of the project managers? Why are you sitting over here? What's going on?’ So, it was very challenging and it was hard breaking through everybody's perception of that.” —Kelly Schaffer

Adjusting to culture shifts

“The culture's very different and changed because now, most of us are practicing agile development...there's a heavy focus on communication and collaboration. So you're not going to be stuck behind a desk. You're actually going to be interacting with a number of people...it is not just a desk job.” —Shuchi Mittal

Self-advocating for career development

"She taught me the lesson of, ‘Being humble isn't always the best approach for career development.’ And it was a really good way to learn about self-advocating.” —Miranda LeBlanc

Pulling up other women

“[W]hen you're running Tough Mudder, somebody's there waiting for you. They have their hands down, you run up that wall, you throw your hands up, they reach down, they grab you, but then you have to turn around and you have to grab other people. And so I think as a woman leader in IT, I think it's not just one person that we grab when we pull up. I think I need to grab and pull up as many women as I can because we need that representation. I do think that's a factor and why the statistics show that the number of women in IT are dropping year over year. So I do want to be that mentor and I do want to be that advocate for other women." —Kerry Schaffer


 

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