We recently had the pleasure of attending the Grace Hopper Celebration (#GHC15) for the very first time. The conference attracted over 12,000 participants from around the globe with the shared goal of celebrating women in computing. After three whirlwind days of brilliant speakers, roundtables, and networking events, we left the conference inspired, energized, and confident.
The main focus of the conference was to encourage women to get and stay in technical disciplines, and there were many great discussions about pipeline problems, education, and career growth. As Clara Shih wrote in her post on succeeding in a male-dominated world, “[A] very important set of decisions we all need to make is how we invest in the next generation of women engineers and leaders, including supporting girls to be interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education early on.”
While these issues are incredibly complex and prevalent in the industry, one of our key takeaways is that there are simple solutions to address these problems.
1. Support Each Other’s Endeavors
One of the best things women can do to help each other professionally is actually support each other. During her keynote, Hearsay Social founder and CEO, Clara Shih, made the point that, “when we bet on one woman and help lift her up, we lift everyone up.” It’s important for young women to seek out older female mentors. It’s also equally important for more advanced women to champion and promote younger professionals.
The challenges that women and other minorities face in the industry are widely discussed and well known, but one of the interesting results of studies about implicit biases is that such biases are held by everyone, including women themselves. This environment, paired with the imposter syndrome that many of us experience, makes it difficult for women to remain resilient.
Having fun and making new connections at #GHC15. From left: Clara Shih, Kristin Thompson; Bottom right: Joyce Jang and two friends.
One of the best things we did at the conference was to reach out to the community and make connections. We learned quickly that there are so many others who feel the same way and are working through the same sort of challenges. By connecting, we not only provide support to other women, but also walked away feeling more emboldened and encouraged. It’s not a competition; we are a team, striving toward the same goals; so let’s get there together!
2. Celebrate Each Other’s Successes
Be proud of our accomplishments. It’s sometimes easier to see value in other’s successes, but it’s important to see value in our successes as well. Women often downplay their own success, but they shouldn’t. Sharing our successes can inspire others and provide encouragement for women in or entering the industry. Furthermore, by investing in our own growth and leadership, we create opportunities for others.
3. Remain Resilient
Initiating change is hard, but redefining the new standard is even harder; it calls for repeated practices of change. There are many points in our careers where it may seem easier to quit and leave. However, if this is what you want to be doing, do it. Challenge yourself, pursue your dreams, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.
At Hearsay Social, we’re lucky to have an environment where, much to Clara’s credit, women are encouraged to pursue leadership roles. On the product team, we even have monthly Ladies of Product meetups where we discuss these issues or we just hang out and have a great time. These meetings are great for mentoring and establishing strong relationships. We learn so much from one another. Our goal is to attract even more diversity and to encourage everyone to learn and love the world of tech.
We walked away from the whole experience truly believing that the only way to create an environment that empowers women to enter the industry and find opportunities that allow for a long, successful tech career is by supporting each other and celebrating our successes. One day, women who do love science and tech will boldly enter the industry without any hesitation or doubt. The community of women in tech that we have today is already so diverse, and we want to encourage more of this diversity as new generations learn and love the world of tech.
This article appeared on the Hearsay Social blog by Joyce Jang and Kristin Thompson.