The Women In Technology Online Festival is a global festival celebrating the power and resilience shared amongst female tech professionals. For the second year in a row, we made sure that any of our female colleagues who were keen to attend were given the opportunity to do so.
As part of the event, we asked our colleagues in attendance to give their feedback on the sessions they attended – as well as their overall experience of being a woman working in the technology field. You can find a video focusing on that latter part here, but in this blog we’ll look at the feedback our team gave for the sessions they joined.
It was a jam-packed event this year with a keynote from Michelle Obama, and speakers including Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, Lori Beer of JP Morgan, and further speakers from household names such as VMWare, Zalando, Cisco, and more.
Below, you’ll find feedback from Charlotte, Emily, Erin, and Alexandra, who were among some of the team from Enigen who attended!
CHARLOTTE BAILLIE, DIRECTOR – ALLIANCES
“Key takeaways for me were around Networking & Confidence in Leadership. Early on in the week I joined J. Kelly Hoey’s session, author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World. This session was a breath of fresh air, a take on networking where it is still personal. The key here was her suggestions mean you don’t lose out on the opportunity to forge meaningful, lasting connections in virtual settings. It was so good I bought her book!
Confidence is something I think we all struggle with, just in different ways. I really enjoyed hearing examples of ways to prepare in a more virtual environment, that helps to keep you inspiring, on track and engaging.
There were some great ‘exercises’ to help with feeling confident, particularly in your leadership style. We all need a reminder sometimes on what we bring to the table.
I have gone away with 3 exercises to help me mentally keep that good old ‘PMA’ (Positive mental attitude):
- What are my top 3 successes?
- What are my top 3 strengths?
- Create a power pose like the ‘Fearless Girl’ a 4-foot girl —hands on her hips and wind whipping her hair—opposite the New York Stock Exchange at 11 Wall Street. I can now be found adopting that pose before my calls!”
EMILY SMAKOWSKI, ALLIANCES EXECUTIVE
“This was my second year attending the Women in Technology festival, and by complete accident the sessions I stumbled upon were either incredibly interactive, and or else very informative.
In terms of informative – did you know, for instance, that the average person’s attention span has gone down from 12 to 8 seconds? Or that a recipient of an email is 20% more likely to open it if their name is in the subject line? Thanks to these sessions, I have pages of notes and tips which were freely bestowed by these successful women, and what struck me was how passionate and enthusiastic this community was in seeing others succeed – regardless of gender.
In terms of the more interactive sessions, I was convinced they would not be for me, but I was mistaken. It was so engaging to see, not only the speakers, but the audience speak up to share their experiences and opinions on the industry. It was so interesting to hear their varied perspectives, especially when I compared them against my own experiences of being a Women in Technology. I feel fortunate to say that my own company does not reflect the realities that most have endured. For example, in one session, the host recounted that she had always been the only female on any leadership team she had ever worked at. In my own company, half of our directors are female, and while females remain the minority, I have not once felt discriminated against because of my gender.
Given the continuation of global events such as these, I hope this will continue throughout my career.”
ERIN SHAW, DIRECTOR – PEOPLE & CULTURE
“It was great to attend the Women In Tech festival for the second year running. This year’s key note speech was from Michelle Obama, she spoke passionately about women’s health, working mothers, the importance of flexibility and having women leaders and decision makers in the workplace so solutions address the real needs of women, rather than hypothetical needs. It was an empowering and inspirational session!
Another session I found really interesting was ‘Creating Gender Equality in a Post COVID World‘. The speaker, Asif Sadiq, focused on the importance of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Asif highlighted that diversity is the right thing morally – and legally there are implications of not doing equality right – but beyond the moral and legal case, the business case has never been as important as before. Having inclusion in the workplace means better results, better profitability and better engagement. One point that struck me was the importance of moving from inclusion to belonging – unless individuals can be their true authentic self, use their voice and bring their unique lived experiences, we are not truly benefiting from inclusion.
One key takeaway that I took from the session was the biggest things that have an impact to embed inclusion are the day to day behaviours – giving someone a voice in a meeting that hasn’t spoken up, saying hi, engaging in conversation and being authentic.”
ALEXANDRA LUCA, FINANCE MANAGER
“I attended many sessions, but one of my favourites was Former First Lady Michelle Obama’ Speech. I have empathized with her view of focusing more on flexibility at our workplaces, where employers are able to embrace the entire life of the employee and not just see them as a simple worker, as a machine, but as people with challenges, with ‘life happening’.
After the pandemic, workplace has started to resume normal schedule, but many employers have not considered where families are. Families are facing different challenges at different times, but has the workplace figure it out what to do to meet employees where they need to be? Is this possible only for professionals? How many employers have asked the question to their employees: ‘How are you doing? What challenges are you facing at home?’ Challenges of childcare or dealing with small children. I am one of the lucky professionals, to have been employed by one of those open minded, empathic, and upstanding employers. But what about the rest?
I believe this strange time we are all living has unconsciously pushed more employers to understand the value to their bottom line in creating family flexible workforces, which will not only help women, but will help the entire workforce. Obama’s words empowered me and strengthened my believe that ‘balance’ is the key in life!
I also liked ‘Thinking Space: Using Neuroscience to Coach and Calm Your Teams‘ by Mika Kioussis, session that reminded me how important it is to focus our attention on the present emotional state. I strongly believe in the power of Mindfulness Training, and I think that companies should integrate mindfulness into their regular meeting routines.
‘How to Lead with Humanity‘ by Niamh Graham has reminded me that respect is one of the magic ingredients to create a perfect human experience and that ‘Positivity fuels positivity’.
Through ‘The Good, Bad and Uncertain of being a Woman in Tech‘ session, I have understood that surviving into the tech industry as women, we must make our emotions our strengths. Even though expectations are thrown at you in a positive way, it can still feel like a burden to the individual, so you need to be comfortable with yourself and set your own expectations.
WITF week has given me a genuine mental refresh, enlightening me on how important it is to know your own worth, to always stand up for your values in any situation and never forget that everything comes from within!”