3 Strategies that can help Women thrive in Tech

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.

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Bonus:

A few books that you may find helpful to read:

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Things to learn from Men

Women love to criticize the opposite sex and seem to always be on a crusade to equal them. However there are always some good characteristics of men that perhaps, women could learn from.  As we take the battle of the sexes forward, here are a couple of things that I admire about the men and feel that we can learn from them (Although I am not denying the possibility that some women already have these qualities in them !!!)

  • Men have more control of their emotions

    Most men can go through the toughest situations with a cool head and dry eyes. They keep their emotions intact and head straight. On the other hand as women we tend to self-pity and throw ourselves into a bucketful of tears at the first opportunity. Only after exhausting ourselves with crying do we wipe our faces and get back to work. One of the things I want to work on is how to cry less and face challenges with a brave face.

    Women must know that every situation doesn’t call for a huge emotional turmoil. Sometimes keeping a brave face wont make us hard-hearted or indifferent, but can also make us a bit rational and practical.

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    • Taste of Reality

    Men are very realistic and practical in life. I feel that women tend to always fantasize about everything in their life, be it relationship or marriage or work life. Add to it social websites like facebook, snapchat, Instagram only increases the level of expectations that women have from their life. Men on the other hand are very realistic and accept that things can’t be eternally hunky dory as per their dreams.

    • Men are thick-skinned and don’t hold grudges

    Women could learn from men not to take criticism so personally, in both work and personal situations. Women tend to think that if you like a person, you express agreement with them in all situations. A women might feel attacked if her man disagrees with her in public. She may confuse opinions and intellectual engagement with loyalty. Men on the other hand tend to explore the idea by tearing it apart, by playing a devil’s advocate. But a women might just think “He hates my idea” or even “He hates me”. Also we tend to hold grudges for far longer time than men. It really doesn’t help anyone to hold onto bitterness, so why don’t we take a note from the men, and sort out the issue as soon as possible. I think women would be better off if we didn’t take stuff so personally.

    • Men have no problem being assertive.

    I hate when I hear women say “I am sorry, can I just…”, “Honey, please can you do this? “. Why are women always apologizing for? Why do they always engage in uptalk? A women tends to be too accommodating sometimes and be trying to please all the people all the time. It may seem rude and selfish, the way a man will demand and expect to get what he wants, but sometimes women could learn from this and stand up more for what they really want.

    • Men think once, think twice……then act!

    Women tend to overthink and play-back all possible scenarios and what-ifs of a situation, sometimes even when really we have no control over how things turn out. One the other hand, men do tend to let things be what they are. I wish we would learn that there is no point dwelling on the tiniest of details or wonder what will happen next. We should really learn to live in the moment.

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    • Men are focused and persistent

    Men may be sometimes criticized for this, but they always are focused on one thing at a time. If they are enjoying a match, they will immerse themselves in the match and truly enjoy it. If they decide to fix the doorbell, they wont quit until they do.

    Women are proud of their ability to multitask, but this is a characteristic that we should unlearn at times. So when a women is working on a project, she does tend to stray her mind to what clothes she is wearing, the crash diet she was supposed to be on, the latest gossip going in her friend’s circle etc.

Tryst with Ikebana

Ikebana is a traditional, disciplined art of flower arrangement that has originated from Japan. It has been dated back to the 7th century when the floral offerings were made at altars and has grown over centuries. “Ikebana” is from the Japanese ikeru (生ける?, “keep alive, arrange flowers, living”) and hana (?, “flower”).  In contrast to Western flower arrangement which is heavily influenced with flowers, Ikebana also uses twigs, branches and stones to symbolize heaven, earth and man. Their placement shows the relationship between each other and with the environment too.

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Ikebana comprises of three main stems. They are called “shin” which is the longest branch, “soe” – the medium branch and “tai” which is the shortest branch. Sometimes, these are used to relate the heaven, earth and man. “Heaven” is the sky, the freedom and aligns with creativity. “Earth” is the ground, the disciplines and the rules. Without disciplines and rules, things will fall apart. “Heaven” and “earth” are indeed “Yin” and “Yang”, they cannot exist alone. Man is the one that forms the balance between heaven and earth.

My Mom took me to the Ikebana class when I was 12 years old, where I learnt the Moribana and Shatai style. Moribana is one of the most popular style and was influenced by Western blooms. It is less structured than other styles.I participated in a lot of flower shows and won in competitions back then. Although I do not practice Ikebana regularly now, I do turn towards it from time to time when I sought peace in my mind and heart. Creating an Ikebana arrangement is indeed supposed to have a meditative quality, as the designer reflects on the beauty of nature and gains inner peace. It takes years and years to practice and master this art form. My Mom regularly influences me with new flower arrangement pictures, vases and decor that she collects from various stores.

I am not an expert in this art form. However, that does not deter me from being a lifelong student and practicing it whenever I get time. Below are some of the arrangements I have made in the past few months:

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My Top 4 Books of 2016

In the words of Baron de Montesquiei “A fondness for reading changes the inevitable dull hours of our life into exquisite hours of delight”.

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2016 was to read as many books as I can, as a step towards expanding my knowledge as well as self-betterment. So I was delighted to be introduced to Goodreads by a friend, where I could explore what books my friends are reading, read reviews, add books to my “to-read” lists as well as get recommendations on books I can read based on my tastes.

I setup a 2016 Reading Challenge for myself with a target of 22 books to read this year. I am delighted to write that I have completed reading 21 books for this year, all of which were carefully selected using Goodreads ratings, Reviews from readers, as well as referencing other people’ recommendations of must-read books.

These top 4 books below are simply the ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep. As I curl up on my sofa with the 22nd book of this year ( P.G. WodeHouse’s Plum Pie) , I hope you find atleast one of these books here below that inspires you to go off the beaten path when you get sometime for yourself this coming new year.

The Rosie Project
By Graeme Simsion
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This hilarious, feel-good novel was a pleasant surprise for me. I was hooked to it an entire weekend. It’s a fun, quirky story with a great storyline. Read it for a good laugh as well to understand the differently wired men in this world!

Interpreter of Maladies
By Jhumpa Lahiri
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I picked this one solely because I have not read any of the works by this award winning author. This book is a set of short stories, each filled with lessons to learn from lives in strange lands, extraordinarily empowering! Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing has so much grace and elegance with a delicate touch of feelings through words.

“As ordinary as it all appears, here are time when it is beyond my imagination”.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
By Tim Marshall
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This is an outstanding work! I would suggest this book to anyone who reads foreign policies and politics and how geography dictates standpoint for countries. The facts are upto date which makes this book an excellent and relevant read.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
By Gretchen Rubin
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I could not finish this book as the book was full of information on how to make small changes in life that help make a positive impact. But each chapter divided by months of the year, is inspiring and has a point to prove. Reading and incorporating her suggestions in my life has definitely made me a happier person.