As many of you know, I spend way too much of my time in the ballet world. My daughter Maya is one of the most passionate dancers I have seen during the last 8 years of her life twirling and leaping everywhere she goes. Needless to say, the idea of attending So You Think You Can Dance at the Warfield in San Francisco last night was yet another event to grin and watch Maya's enjoyment while I wished I was relaxing at home after a busy week.
I was so wrong.
Ballet is about precision and it is about being the right "type". Ballerinas are between 62 and 67 inches, they weigh next to nothing, they look a certain way; they move a certain way. Deviate from this way and you are not considered "serious" about dance. We (as ballet moms) watch our daughters go through puberty, their growth and body type change and it is not something that can be controlled - genetics kicks in. They grow into beautiful and amazing women but the ballet community begins to reject the ones they used to embrace as unable to be professional dancers.
Why am I telling you this?
It got me thinking about women in tech. We look at those women who have "made it" as leaders in technology. They are a certain type. Typically born of privilege, the right schools, the right "look", the right mannerisms. I know, I have spent more time with them than I have with the ballerinas.
But here I was, at So You Think You Can Dance. My favorite dancer, Jasmine, is nearly 6 feet tall at 70 inches, she towers over her partner, she doesn't look like a "ballerina" although her technique is clearly ballet but she has this style I have never seen before in a dancer. She has taken dance and made it her own. I began to look at the other dancers and sure enough, most of these dancers would never be in professional ballet but they were better than most ballet performances I have seen.
My point. We need to take our love of technology and make it our own. We need to find a stage where we can be what we are passionate about and we will shine. The research shows that if you can't see it, you can't be it. It is time we start showcasing women who embody the love of technology in their own way so that we can embrace our own trajectories. Let's face it, not all of us want to be the executive of a multi-national tech company and even if we do, we don't want to assume "the look" of those who are already there.
So, thank you Maya for dragging me to this show. And thank you Jasmine for reminding me of a very important lesson. We all deserve to be where we thrive, we just need to find it. That is what Global Tech Women is all about.
A recent article in the Deccan Herald features a discussion by senior women in Bangalore on the state of women in technology in India. Despite the numbers of women in tech, often quoted as high as 30% in industry in many verticals, only 7-8% of women are in executive leadership roles (or less). Cisco Director of Software Development Pallavi Arora is quoted saying it is "partly due to an “aspirational deficit” among women, unlike men." REALLY??? I nearly choked on my chai reading this.I have worked with Pallavi in the past and this sounds like these words are taken out of context (if said at all) so I believe this journalist may have misquoted her, but here it is, in print. Do you agree? Do Indian women in tech lack the ambition to land an office in the executive suite? Based on my years of working with women in tech in India I think this notion is ridiculous. Technical women in India are more ambitious and driven than anywhere else I have travelled in the world and I have blogged about this more than once. Many of my meetings with Indian women in tech occurred late into the night (i.e. 10:30 pm I get calls) as they were leaving the office! I regularly observed women leaving their offices at 10-11pm every night! So where is the disconnect here? I have seen this argument before:
Yes, these are real quotes, said to me, from real HR people responsible for diversity, an executive of a multi-national, and the head of an Indian association who actively works in the women in tech space! So as you can see, this quote in the Deccan is in line with what I have been told privately. So, let's blame the women. This is an easy way to shift the blame, to remove the discussion of real problems women in tech in India face which are much more complex to solve. What are these problems? My thoughts based on my experience on the ground:Let's start with the statistic that industry loses 50% of their technical women in india every 5 years. Not quoted in the Deccan and an important statistic. Why? Because the challenges for women in tech change over time:1. Lack of role models. Most women in tech today have a mother who did not work outside the home. Their mother in-law (if they are married) also didn't work outside the home. Their husband has never experienced living with a working woman (for the most part) and the matriarchs have an expectation that all the things they did should apply to the younger working woman. Fresh meals, child rearing, running the household are the cultural imperative for many. The pressure to perform at home is larger than many of us outside of India can imagine.2. Lack of reliable child care. There is little formal or licensed childcare available to working families. Many couples move to the cities for their work and cut their community ties where childcare from family members would be available. Childcare is a HUGE problem in many places in India. Children are often left with uneducated and untrained household help. Rumors of incidents with household help mistreating children (and even having them begging in the streets during the day for example) has led to a level of anxiety of working mother finds difficult, if not impossible to overcome.3. Sexist male managers. The stories I could talk about here would make your hair curl. The level of discrimination by mid-level male managers is shocking. These men have no idea how to work with women in the office and they see them as fair game. Sexual harassment, discrimination and not following company policies on paid-leave and flexible hours is rampant. 4. Company productivity is still measured by the amount of time your butt is in the seat. Many companies in India measure productivity by the amount of time you are in the office. Many still measure the access card scans of when you arrive and leave the office. This is a huge disadvantage for women. The most productive workers are penalized for this measurement - and many of them are women. Flexibility is still often perceived as a way for women to take advantage. Now is the time to rethink how an organization measures success.5. Infrastructure problems. Electricity, bandwidth, traffic and lack of conveniences. Everything is a battle. Regular reliable access to the Internet and the unbelievable time spent on commuting work hand in hand. Government needs to take an active role in improving infrastructure in India's cities. Try driving in Bangalore, Hyderabad or Delhi at 8am on a Tuesday. You will see what I mean. (I know - I am dreaming on this one).Those are my top 5. The pressure to walk away from tech revolve around these and many other challenges we could talk about here. This pressure erodes the ambition of many women who can't see the way out. Family and societal pressures drown ambition. If women don't "marry well" they are in an environment that does not support them. Let's not blame them as having an "aspiration deficit".I wish the article in the Deccan would have talked about these things. But these things are hard. I look forward to having a real conversation about how we can get more women in executive positions in tech. It has happened in banking, finance and other industries so we know it is possible but let's be real. The culture of technology is sexist in India and it must be addressed.
- "Whenever we provide flex time for working moms they just take advantage."
- "Women graduating from engineering colleges is 50%. Over time, the numbers of executive women will also be 50%. Give it 10 years. They just need to catch up."
- "Women have children and they believe this is an excuse not to do their work"
When I went back to school at the age of 37 I couldn't believe UC Berkeley accepted me as a student. In fact, it was a running joke in our tiny apartment in student family housing. I would ask my 14 year-old son (at the time) if anyone had called and he would tell me, you guessed it, "UC Berkeley called. They said they made a mistake and you don't belong here." We would laugh at our running joke but the reality was I was a fish out of water. I was older, with a 2-year old daughter and 2 older sons. I had been in the workforce for 20 years, and everyone around me felt more in control, smarter and much more accomplished in their youth.Many of us have stories like this. Returning to the work in 2006 I learned about the Imposter Syndrome. I had suffered from it my entire career. I always thought that at any moment I would be caught, in the act , a fraud. I wasn't really what I was pretending to be. "Fake it 'til you make it" was my mantra and it just kept going. How did I overcome Imposter Syndrome? Coaching. A number of bad coaches (that is another blog) and one good one. I struggled to internalize my accomplishments reassuring myself that what was happening was not luck. I hung onto any set-back or failure as proof that I was right in my self-diagnosis of imposter. Eventually, I finally found resolution that indeed my actions were tied to my success and I needed to own it. Over time, I stopped anticipating the phone call from UC Berkeley. It was a long and cumbersome process.I wish I had Stacey Sargent's book, Inner Critic Inner Success 20 years ago. When I heard her speak at the 2013 Voices Conference I had a massive "aha moment". All that effort and struggle with the Imposter Syndrome was broken down, explained, and a plan to remove those critics discussed. I thought WOW! This is HUGE! A logical and pragmatic approach and real solutions versus hours of trying to "get over it". Stacey, where have you been all my life? When I heard Stacey had written a book, I knew this would be part of the Global Tech Women Book Club and here we are! I am pleased to announce Inner Critic Inner Success is our November/December Book Club selection. If you are interested in a systematic and pragmatic approach to removing those critics in your head, help is here. I hope you will take advantage of this moment and register for our meet-up on December 6th, 9am pst/12pm est/9:30pm ist. The meet-up is free. We are fortunate to have Stacey join us to answer any questions we might have. It should be an amazing event. Take the time for yourself. End this year with the acknowledgement you are the reason for your success and join us! You will be glad you did.
Global Tech Women is proud to post in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day! Our mission is to create a global network of connected inspired and self-actualized women in technology. So how could we feature one technical woman? We are about visibility of all woman everywhere. So this post is to celebrate technical women around the world. Some of these women you may recognize and all of them you should know. They were all speakers at last years Voices Conference held on International Women's Day (March 8 2013). In honor of Ada Lovelace and all women in tech, please participate in this years Voices Conference! No travel, no budget and no time off required. We will help you set it up. We want you to share what you are passionate about. The deadline in November 1 2013. Please gather your friends and colleagues around the globe and let's connect! You can find more information here.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day amazing women in tech. We think you are incredible and celebrate you everyday.
No, this isn't a joke. October 8th is National Face Your Fears Day. If ever the universe was trying to say something, this is it. I personally struggle with fear. Leaving tech to work at a non-profit start-up doing things I had never done before, starting a conference in India from zero, starting Global Tech Women...the list goes on and on. At this moment I am getting ready to do some things that scare me and I have found myself frozen, unable to move forward. What do I fear? Rejection. Failure. Looking stupid. (I guess the cat is out of the bag now). I was told by coaches and mentors the more often I work outside of my comfort zone the easier this would get. Nope. I still experience fear on a regular basis and it feels just like it did the first time.
Is there something out there on the horizon that frightens you? You are not alone. Sramana Mitra, a highly respected serial entrepreneur and advisor to over 1000 start-ups recently blogged about her fears in How Do You Overcome the Fear of Entrepreneurial Failure? Sramana examines her life and leverages the Hindu religion to put her fear in perspective.
Virginia Sullivan, an author and contributor to the Huffington Post writes in Fear is Your Friend, Shake His Hand that we need fear because "Courage is when the fear behind you becomes more than the fear in front of you." Her advice? Accept it, act, exercise, meditate and welcome it. When we face our fears we grow and become the person we are meant to be.In speaking with Harriet Tubman Wright just yesterday, her advice to me lays it all on the line. By not doing the thing we fear is worse than the act of moving forward. The time we pause, hesitate, sit there, and contemplate what will happen is actually more painful than moving forward. She is right of course. And now today is National Face Your Fears Day. Time to move forward. Lookout world. How are you planning to Celebrate National Face Your Fears Day?
We have a lot of fun here at Global Tech Women choosing our Book Club selections. Sometimes the conversations get a little silly, sometimes downright outrageous, and our October selection What Do Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam is a prime example. Here are the 3 things that came to my mind once I stopped rolling my eyes at the topic.1. What is the definition of "Success"? For me, "success" in the morning means leaving the house with shoes that actually match, a packed lunch that doesn't involve excessive mold and completed 6th grade homework tucked away in a backpack on its way to school to be turned in.2. I am a technical woman so how does this book apply to me? Let's face it. Technical women have a triple-bind: career, home, and keeping up with the nose-bleed speed of technology. Most people don't understand the dilemmas technical women face.3. The culture of technology for many of us is not a "morning thing". Many of us work in a culture where we work into the night and into the wee hours of the morning... Large numbers of people in technology don't show up to the office until 10am...sometimes when morning is over! What would this book have to offer people like this?So let's read this book together! Let's look at the slew of other articles spawned from this book (here is one from just 4 hours ago). Let's meet-up, on Halloween, for breakfast, and talk about our real lives. What advice can you offer this group on how you make your mornings (and the rest of the day) successful -- on your terms?Over the next few weeks I will be blogging my thoughts and I don't want you to be silent! Blog with us! 200 words (or more) on what you are thinking. I can't wait to see what happens next! In the meantime, I am getting a little more coffee :-)
Jerri Barrett, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Tech Women
Ellen Brigham, INTJ and Technical Woman
| || || |This is the story of a lunch spent discussing the book Quiet with an Extrovert (Jerri Barrett, CMO, Global Tech Women) and an Introvert (Ellen Brigham, INTJ – a technical women with more than 20 years in the Valley). To make this easy for all of you we will be identified as E and I in this conversation.
I – Where shall we go to lunch?
E – We could go to any one of a dozen places. We’re not taking the dog so we can eat inside.
I – Where have we not been for a while?
E – Well, what do you want to eat?
I – I like anything.
E – We’ll go to the place with the good French Toast. They have stuff you like there.
NOTE: What happened here is the extrovert had a million ideas and rationalizations. The introvert wanted to quickly limit the set of options before they became unmanageable.
E- So what did you like best about the book?
I – My favorite part was in the chapter called the Myth of Charismatic Leadership where all the Harvard Business School Students would have died because they would not listen to the introvert who actually had all the information they needed to survive. Explains a lot about what happens to companies in the Valley.
E –Explain what you mean.
I – According to the book, humans have a weakness in that they equate loud with right.
E – I’ve always believed that. But then I’m from New Jersey – we’re all loud, and we’re all right. Chris Christie said it best – Get the hell off the beach. Exactly what should be said when a hurricane is coming.
I – Because life is complicated it turns out that each preference has its place. The next chapter talked about experiments determining whether introverted or extroverted managers get the best results. It all depended on the tasks and the requirement for individual contributors to be creative.
E – I wonder if the extroverts who can’t manage individual contributors are people who are just not able to delegate effectively. Is that an extroverted characteristic? I will admit – I had to learn over the years how to be an effective delegator.
I – The trick seems to be figuring out how complicated the tasks are and making sure that the people who actually do them have the ability to do a proper job. And the book goes into a discussion of open work environments vs offices, which makes a huge difference, as well.
E – Do you think being an introvert has held you back in any way?
I – Absolutely. If you are a quiet short woman in a group of loud men who don’t want to be bothered with facts, you will not succeed.
E – Well, I ‘m a woman – but I haven’t been quiet or short since I was a child.
I – That’s because you’re from New Jersey, if you were from Pittsburgh it would different.
E – Maybe, though I was very quiet in Middle School and High School except with my good friends or if alcohol was involved. It was only when I went to college and decided to become more outgoing, like I was as a child, that things changed for me.
I – That is discussed in Chapter 4. (Laughter ensues). Turns out that a lot of extroversion and introversion has to deal with a child’s perception of threats in their environment. In a safe environment children are less likely to view novelty, noise and change as threatening. If a child does not feel secure, there is a sense they are always looking for threats, which is an inherently introverted behavior.
E – It’s interesting that we both came from dysfunctional family environments and then both went to the same college that I went extrovert and you maintained introvert. Though I will have to say that some of the extroversion was my choice and a lot of extroverted behaviors were thrust upon me because of my leadership in activities that required me to get up and talk in front of groups. It took years but now it’s completely second nature and I can speak publicly off the cuff. I remember my first time public speaking, I threw up three times before I went in.
I – Thanks for that vivid detail.
E- Sorry – we extroverts do tend to talk just a few minutes too long.
I – One thing the book doesn’t address is the Myers Briggs scheme in which there are multiple functions in which each function can be either introverted and extroverted. For example, I have introverted intuition but extroverted thinking.
E – Say what?
I –You are going to have to sit still and listen to me explain this.
E – Oh dear.
I –People have four different functions (according to Myers Briggs/Carl Jung) : sensing, feeling, thinking, and intuition. So, my weakest function is sensing which is introverted which explains why I can’t find my way out of a paper bag, whereas you as an extroverted sensor always knows where everything is and how to get there. It’s very annoying. You are always aware of what’s going on around you, that’s the extrovert.
E – Unless I deliberately turn everything off, which is how I focus.
I – Whereas I have to make a deliberate effort to turn on the outside world.
E – Which is why I did all the driving in Hawaii.
I – But why I needed you to navigate to Tahoe so I could just focus on the road. So, in a balanced organization you need to have multiple levels of information that are acted on appropriately, so you need introverts and extroverts to succeed. The book discusses how social media is really changing the relationship between introverts and extroverts and providing a much more level playing field for ideas to be presented.
E – Does this mean you’re finally getting a Facebook page?
I – No, I’ll just do more with LinkedIn.
E – So, can I tell you about the introvert I met the other day?
I – Please do.
E – I was at a birthday party for an 11 year old girl and there was a girl who wasn’t engaging – she was off standing in the sun by herself. I went to check on her and asked if she was ok. She looked at me quietly and said yes, I just have an urge. I asked an urge for what, thinking chocolate, ice cream, booze? She said I have the urge to fold clothes. I had no clue whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I knew she was an introvert so I just left her to her thoughts after asking her to come by my house – I have lots of clothes to fold. So, what was up with that?
I – What she was probably feeling and not yet able to express was the need for better structure and to reclaim some control of her situation. My guess is that you were dealing with an introverted sensing person – she wanted to organize things.
E – I wish I’d read this book when I first became a manager, it would have saved me a lot of grief.
I – The moral of the story is evaluate what you hear at every decibel level.
We hope you will join us in the launch of our Book Group and read Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking! Our first meet-up is Friday, June 28th at 11am PST/ 2pm EST.
By Guest Blogger and Global Tech Women Advisory Board Member Dr. Caroline SimardI am an extroverted extrovert. On the Myers-Briggs scale, I am at the very end of the I-E spectrum; a capital “E” – as extroverted as you can find. I like networking, public speaking, and even meetings. I love social media, chats, dinner parties, and connecting to others in any way I can. As a child, I was bored exactly a half day after school was out for the summer. In my first job, my boss quickly figured out that the best way to motivate me was to send me out to meet with external clients and partners. Whatever advice I could give to others in terms of managing a career and family life always comes back to people skills (and a sense of humor). If I am exhausted and tired, I can think of nothing more energizing than seeing friends and socializing.
I have been surprised to find myself the mother of an introvert. My teenage daughter’s idea of bliss is time alone being creative through writing or drawing; she doesn’t join all sorts of clubs or activities; you won’t see her posting pictures or comments incessantly on Facebook or Instagram (as opposed to her mom). Raising her has sometimes been an experience in cross-cultural communication (“what do you mean, you don’t want to sign up for soccer/gymnastics/student body leadership? What do you mean you don’t want us to host a dinner party?”).
Sometimes, I can clearly see that my daughter is getting the message from all sides (the school counselor, her mom, her friends) that she should want to join all these things – Speak up! Take your seat at the table! Put yourself out there! Get involved! Being an advocate for the advancement of women, I have often repeated that advice.
This is why reading Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, was so powerful for me. As familiar with diversity issues as I am, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about unconscious bias toward introverts, and how our implicit preference for extroversion shapes our institutions and leads to a loss of talent. Look at any job description in tech or in any other field – nowhere do we focus on “the ability to listen and reflect” – instead, we look for “outspoken, assertive, energetic leaders”. Our promotion structures rewards extroverts – those who take the floor and assert their voice over others. We routinely give advice to women to be more assertive and outspoken. This advice can work for some, but what about when it fundamentally goes against your preferred style?
There are major consequences for our bias toward extroverts – not only do we miss out on the ideas and leadership potential of introverts, but we screen the talent pool for extroversion. Cain begins her book by discussing her visiting of the Harvard MBA program and asking to speak to an introvert…. And coming up empty handed. Nobody could point to a single introvert in the MBA student body. Fields such as computer science are more famously welcoming to introverts – yet, advancement into leadership positions still seems to be predicated upon the ability to “speak up” and be “assertive”.
Despite my own extroversion, I have always admired those technical women leaders who showcase a different style – those who listen before jumping in; those whose comments are right on point because they carefully measure their words; those who lead by consensus and listening rather than by telling others what to do. I have much to learn from introverts – and I can’t wait to see my own daughter grow into her own leadership style – one that doesn’t fit a stereotypical notion of how a leader should behave, but one that is true to her own vision and style. As Susan Cain herself writes, “The charisma of ideas matters more than a leader’s gregarious charms.”
From the GTW Staff: We hope you will join us in the launch of our Book Group and read Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking! Our first meet-up is Friday, June 28th at 11am PST/ 2pm EST
Global Tech Women is launching our Book Club with an important topic: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. In tech, the number is probably higher! They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Perhaps most inspiring, Cain introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."
This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
Our Book Club will meet on Friday, June 28th at 11am PST/2pm EST. If there is interest in holding meet-ups in other time zones please post your preference. We will decide what tool we will use once we have an idea of how many people want to participate. This is new and we want to include everyone who is interested!
During the month of June we will be talking about the power of introverts on our blogs, webcasts and Facebook and LinkedIn Groups
. Sounds good? Start reading now and post your comments here as we read together! Information about the meet-up, blog posts and webcasts coming soon. Join the Facebook and/or LinkedIn Groups or subscribe to our newsletter
Guest blogger: Karen Catlin
I laughed when my friend Susan said, "I thought CS was a girls' discipline." I was spending the weekend with girl friends from college, six of whom got their bachelor's degrees in computer science. Our conversation touched on lots of topics, including my work doing leadership coaching for technical women. Susan, a history major, had no idea that women were underrepresented in computer science. Her experience was informed by her 6 friends who were CS majors, along with other women she knew who studied it in college. She was completely serious when she said that she thought CS was more popular with girls than boys.
We graduated in 1985, the year that made the record books in terms of the percentage of CS degrees awarded to women in the US. It was a whopping 38%! Since then, though, the numbers have dropped. As reported by the New York Times
, the National Center for Education Statistics says that 18% of the CS undergraduate degrees in the US went to women in 2010. What a disappointing change from 1985.
But, based on my observations, the trend has reversed. Let me explain...
My daughter is a high school junior, and she wants to study computer science in college. We've been visiting schools with strong CS programs, and on each campus I ask about the gender ratio in their computer science departments. The answer has consistently been, "I don't have the exact numbers, but it's approaching 50-50". Wow!
I bet we've all heard about Harvey Mudd's excellent progress on improving the gender balance, and how 40% of their undergrad computer science degrees went to women in 2012. But, it looks like other schools are doing equally well. I spoke to CS professors at both Brown and Princeton, who assured me that the CS undergrads were 40%-50% women. I asked about it on tours at MIT, Harvard, and Tufts, and the tour guides all reported that there were about 50% female students in the CS department. At Harvard, the tour guide told me that, in 2007, they had 30 CS undergrads, only 3 of whom were women. In 2013, they now have 60 students, half of whom are women. Not only have they doubled the size of the program in six years, they have 10 times the number of women in that program. Double wow!
While my research is far from comprehensive or statistically relevant, I'm excited about it. I'm thrilled for my daughter, knowing that she has a great chance of being surrounded by other female students in her computer science classes and that she'll have great role models. I'm happy for the software industry in general, knowing that there is a growing pipeline of female talent to recruit from. Perhaps computer science is becoming a girls' discipline after all!
What is your experience? If you are currently in college studying computer science, or a recent graduate, I'd like to hear from you. Please add a comment about the gender ratio in your program. Thanks so much.
Karen Catlin, a former high-tech executive, is now a leadership coach and author of "Use Your Inside Voice
", a blog about the intersection of leadership and parenting. She is passionate about helping technical women have successful careers.