I can’t think of a better way to spend #WCW than at a conference learning from powerful women entrepreneurs and the female movers and shakers in the tech industry.
IBM was kind enough to host this conference at Bit Maker Labs, a coding school in my hometown of Toronto. A lot of interesting and important discussions took place today, from the fact that women hold 51% of positions in the job market but only 26% of positions in the tech industry and only 3% of tech companies are founded by women.
However, one important question was asked over and over. What is an effective action for advancing and recognizing women in tech and in business?
A few different theories have been presented, but the big issue that comes up time and time again is confidence. Women seem to have a hard time talking about and celebrating their successes and are often too modest about their accomplishments. How do we fix this issue?
We need to teach women to be more confident. When things go wrong, we are very hard on ourselves. We are risk averse. We have to find a way to celebrate failure – to see failure as a learning opportunity and to take the time to mentor each other. Microfinance and women helping women was another interesting point made in today’s presentation. We should talk more about microfinancing programs
for women in Canada. This was an interesting point and something I had not considered before. Microfinance is changing lives for women all around the world, but what about the so-called First World countries? It’s not a trend that has caught on in this part of the world and I’m not sure why.
Taking the time to mentor other women and encourage them has been another trending theme in today’s discussion. Women are taught to view each other as competition. There is nothing more inspiring than a woman not only working hard and making her way to the top but pulling other women up with her. It’s important that we shift our thinking and the thinking of young women and teach them to encourage each other and cheer each other on rather than bring each other down. This is something that I have been experiencing a lot in the tech industry lately. Women and the tech community in general, are very encouraging and helpful to others in the community. When I use the term tech community, that is truly what I mean.
Never before have I had the opportunity to work in an industry where people are so willing to help one another. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s something we should work hard to bring into other industries as well. Technology should be a useful and meaningful tool to enhance human lives. I think most people in the tech industry strongly believe this and really do want to make a difference and change the world. I feel blessed to be a part of that. We need more women entrepreneurs because women think about women’s issues.
We need more role models and we need to see more women in leadership roles. Going back to the confidence theme that was a constant today, it was pointed out that women seem to wait to be chosen for leadership positions, entrepreneurs don’t wait to be chosen they choose themselves. How do we build women up and give them the confidence to take on more leadership roles? It’s important to even this out. Women look at things differently, they think of issues that men wouldn’t necessarily think of because there are certain issues that affect women that don’t affect men. It’s important to get both perspectives. In The Confidence Code, Katty Kay points out that there is a confidence gap between men and women.
On average, a man will apply for a job if he meets at least 60% of the requirements, while a woman will only apply for the job if she feels she meets 100% of the requirements. How do we change this? How do we make it acceptable, even admirable for women to take more chances in business and in life? Let’s start a discussion, a movement, let’s make a change. It starts with you.
The next time you meet an awesome woman doing awesome things, build her up and tell her how great she is.