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Recap of ABI’s Advancing Women Technologists Into Positions of Leadership


Advancing Women Technologists Into Positions of Leadership” — my key takeaway for the day was the term Intersectionality and how we should make the investment as individual and organization.

Telle Whitney , CEO of Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, led the session, and Geetha Kannan,Managing Director at Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, India, conducted the hands-on session.

Telly discussed her White paper, where she mentions, it is critical and essential for advancing more women technologists, and this can happen when the organizations embrace a comprehensive model containing three key strategies:

· Create an inclusive culture

· Hold leaders accountable

· Develop and promote women

“Organizations must focus on recruiting, retaining and advancing women technologists to innovate and stay competitive. Beyond repeating anecdotes, the key to closing the gender gap is hard data. Top Companies is the only program of its kind that shows how the industry as a whole is progressing, which organizations are committed to diversity and what programs work to create measurable change.”– TELLE WHITNEY, PRESIDENT, AND CEO OF THE ANITA BORG INSTITUTE

As Telle continued and said, some of the organization finds it difficult to create a business use case for diversity and inclusion. At the same time, she also walked through the companies like Intel, Intuit, and Thoughtworks who have achieved this by fostering gender partnership, publicly recognizing women, empowering women to learn new skills and providing leadership development for women. She also mentioned, as leaders of the organization we should also learn to identify introverts and extroverts. Encourage and nurture the strength of the introverts to influence and grow them in the organization.

What is Intersectionality?

Anita borg’s white paper about Advancing-women-technologists-leaders explains Intersectionality –

“ The theory of intersectionality recognizes that a person is categorized and discriminated against by a variety of factors including gender, race, age, education, religion, and much more.”

The term was coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Kimberlé says it was a lived reality.

We should have an empathic approach to understanding the intersectionality in any business. We should also develop ways to identify the and address them. Addressing the intersectionality will be an important step to lead to Inclusions in the tech business.

“Privilege is invisible to those who have it. If you calculate how much gender inequality is costing you, it’s extremely expensive.” — DR. MICHAEL KIMMEL, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AND GENDER STUDIES, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY (SUNY)

Intersectionality in India

The hands-on session was very engaging, and we had to work what does Intersectionality means in India. Ensuring you get whole self to work is challenging to most of us, and the organization can make a difference if all their employees get their full self to work.

All of us were divided into the groups, and each of the groups came up with attributes of Intersectionality in India. It was interesting to share the different perspective of each of these attributes based on the personal experience. The diagram captures some of the qualities my fellow participants and I identified in our business life.

The Challenges

  • Age makes a difference if you have a manager with less experience, the general assumption is that the person has influenced the promotion. The co-workers do not value the person’s actual ability and strength.
  • Most of the times, when a woman is promoted, it’s always considered she is promoted because of diversity and not because of her talent.
  • Communication Style or English fluency brings different status quo the way people pursue you.
  • Social gathering, lunch, and even shop talk are influenced by religion, caste, language, and State.
  • Unfortunately, you can get things done faster or better if you are the person who has returned especially from the US or European countries. It’s strange to see how does return from a foreign country influences people to see you be better known.
  • The network you have in your circle does make a greater impact in your career and life. But it’s sad to know people around you judge you based on how powerful is your network.
  • Socializing with your co-workers is essential for the career.It becomes challenging for women whether married or unmarried staying out late over drinks. It’s difficult to create the right balance of socializing in a particular culture to enhance passion about the work and fully engaged in the circle of influence of the team.
  • Women especially need to carefully handle the temperament to ensure they are not called aggressive or bossy.But men are said to be “powerful” with the same temperament.
  • Finally, a Sexual orientation which is less spoken but plays a critical role in bias in everyday life at work.

Navigating and Investing in the Challenges

  • While the organization strives for the empowering women, it’s important to educate all men and women the importance of empowering the women and minorities from the beginning of their career.
  • Creating more opportunities for sponsorship, networking and mentoring for women at every level of the career.
  • It’s good to have a vision, to make a sound investment in the Inclusion which will lead to diversity as a result.
  • Women need to invest in themselves as they make the path for their career.
  • Support equal opportunities should begin from the hiring at Schools either they tire 1 or tire 2.

Wrap !!

It was a great experience meeting men and women from technology who are excelling in diversity and inclusion and at the same time embracing the challenge to make it better for everyone. A big “Thank you” to Anita Borg Institute in India who brought different companies diversity champions under the same roof to create the landscape of gender quality to positively disrupting the business.

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