You had questions, and these inspiring women had answers. Salient Venture's CEO, Diane Hessan, sat down with four of the most innovative and forward-thinking female leaders in tech to share their best insights on how women in tech can reach their full potential.
Here's what you wanted to know— and what this group of amazing women had to say:
Five of the top tech companies only have a workforce of 34% of women….what gives?
For most women pursuing tech careers, the perception of the kind of person who fits-in in tech and the kind of person who doesn't is a huge part of why the industry faces a diversity drought.
The only way to successfully bring more women into the field is to "battle the image," says AnitaB.org's Brenda Wilkerson. We as a society need to assert, early on, that the tech world is everyone's world and that there's something for everyone to pursue and explore.
“Start with an increase in educational opportunities for young women," says Google's Ritcha Gupta Ranjan. "Let women and young girls know that there are role models out there."
What if you don’t have a tech-savvy support system? How do you get the mentors or the help you need?
"It's on you to make a network amongst the people that you admire," says Brightcove's Namita Dhallan. You have to put yourself out there and get involved to build the network or mentorship you wish to have.
"You don't just have to join the women in tech group," she says; it's about joining the type of team or group that resonates with you or aligns with your interests. Speak, listen, and, more importantly, learn. You'll never know the kind of connections you'll end up making.
What should we be telling younger generations of women?
LaShawn McGhee of Revry says we should be telling younger women who want to explore a future in tech to chase it. "It doesn't matter when you start; all that matters is: if it's your passion, and it's something you're interested in, just start."
What should you do if you’re the only woman on your team?
"When you think about what diversity means, – different ideas and backgrounds help to bring 'you' to the table," says Brenda Wilkerson. The only way to make sure everybody fits in equally is to throw out the notion that there is, in fact, a way to fit in.
What role can male team members play to best support their female peers in the business and tech world?
"Sometimes, when you're in a meeting, you need to make your point heard – it's important to look around the room and see if any of your women counterparts has something to say," says LaShawn McGhee. Far too often, women are interrupted or not heard, and it's time we put an end to poor communication skills. It's important, not just for men, but for everyone to remain observant, respectful, and attentive.