While I am an early-career woman, I have attended a few tech talks, conferences, and some other technical events. These events have been mostly targeted around the dominating topics in numerous disciplines, lightning talks by innovators or sometimes presentations and demos showing results of their new research work. On many occasions I have been dismayed about the number of women willingly participating or attending these events, where they have so much to learn and grasp. Even fewer women in these events play the role of speaker and lead these events.
Why is it important for women to contribute or partake in these tech events?
Tech events are a great source of learning for women who desire to develop their career and are looking for inspiration, ideas and connections. These events give an opportunity to women to voice themselves, their work and gain feedback. They get a chance to be passionate about new trends and also inspire more people to get involved in their conversation.
Here are 3 takeaways to share with women in tech:
1. Fear is a Four Letter Word
Public speaking can be terrifying but something women can master with a little (or maybe a lot!) of effort. Even if you are at the start of you career and infrequently called on to present, it is worth tackling the fear now. If you are able to confidently and articulately represent yourself, your work or your company, as well as do Q&A with others, you will definitely be noticed and it might help in your career. I know someone who was an engineering intern at a startup. Even though she had only a year of work experience, she was of high energy and very confident. When a communications manager asked for a volunteer to host an upcoming panel discussion, she jumped at the chance. After the successful hosting, she was appreciated for her skills and enthusiasm, and thus came in the public eye. People who succeed are those who are not just quaking on the inside, but also projecting a level of confidence with their opinions and thoughts, thus inspiring trust. So learn to speak up and say it out loud!
2. Build Networks within your Industry
Joining a group or groups within your specific discipline helps you build critical networks. Discipline-specific groups are filled with senior people as well as peers who are likely have likely encountered your problems and can offer targeted help, yet because you do not directly work with them, you are free to be candid. Encourage each other to speak at conferences or tech events, help prepare them for talks and be in the front row cheering each other on.
Building networks within your industry also helps in getting a mentor who can be a long-lasting resource of information for you. Mentors can help see your potential and take an interest in our long-term advancement. Good mentors can help overcome the “initial stage fright” and push you into voicing your thoughts and work.
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell
3. Be Passionate and Stay Curious
People who reach top positions are usually curious and always eager to learn. Curious not just in your own role but also from peers in different disciplines and functions. It is important to keep a growing mindset so you have a thirst for knowledge. Because people are motivated to learn more, they tend to embrace challenges, persist when they encounter obstacles, see effort as a path to mastery, learn from criticism and be inspired by the success of others. By participating in talks, tech events, and conferences; one increases their learning and gain confidence on their knowledge.
Curiosity helps women stay current in the latest technology, research and trends through tech events. This helps to carry conversation during networking events and build connections with people.
Curiosity also helps in listening to other people’s work and thinking outside the box. Sometimes what other people use to solve their problem can help you in exploring new ways on your own work. To have curiosity in your own work can be a powerful tool. If you can find different ways to stay hungry for knowledge and continue to be a lifelong learner, you will find your career to be much more rewarding.
A few books that you may find helpful to read:
- Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – by Karen Purcell
- The Girl’s Guide to Kicking Your Career Into Gear: Valuable Lessons, True Stories, and Tips For Using What You’ve Got (A Brain!) to Make Your Worklife Work for You – by Caitlin Friedman