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FCW : January 2015
WOMEN IN TECH 20 January 2015 FCW.COM only black person in the room, the only Hispanic in the room, the only [whatever] in the room, there’s always these ways to make you alone. But those are also the places it can help define you and help you be successful. So you come up with strategies. You can be defeated by it, or you can learn from it. Carlson: Don’t be afraid in your style, authentically, to take on challenges. It may be a little Pollyannaish, a little too optimistic, but I think if you do all that, and you’re vocal, and you have a little bit of sharp elbows, and you politically figure out how you are in the game, then women can do it all. Mentors, networks and examples to avoid The women praised their mentors for teaching them how to lead and said feelings of defeat don’t always come from the men in the room. Wynn: I think some of the worst scars or the slights I’ve had have been from other females. Evans: I agree, and I think it depends on your age and where you are. When I came into the workforce, there was a certain type of woman [who] made it on her own. She had to fight her way in. That was a different type of woman. When I looked at them as I was coming up, I thought, that’s exactly how I don’t want to be. So they were really good lessons to learn.... You learn a lot watching them, but they did it on their own, and the whole idea of working together in a team, that was a different concept for them. [My generation] learned at a younger age that one person’s performance is not going to get the team across the finish line and win. You have to work together as a group. A lot of us played sports, which made a difference when you entered the workplace because prior to that, everything that a female did was about her own performance, and it was very individual. Conrad: That myth that you have to choose between having a hard-core career or being a really great mom, I think those boundaries have really blurred in tech. I started with the attitude that I am a woman, I have children, and I’m really good at my job.... I’m a whole person and I’m going to remain really dedicated and committed to both of those parts of my life.... I think today that’s more possible than it was then. Bannon: Being the only woman at a lot of tech events, I started reaching out to a lot of tech women’s groups. Tech LadyMafia is my favorite one. That’s what really taught me that women are not the competition. They are people who can help you. Graves: We have a group within DHS that’s called WE — Women Executives. And we do mentoring formally.... But it’s really individual commitment that makes that happen. Ho: I would challenge that. I came from a consulting background, where networking is everything. [In government], the networking, the mentoring, I still think it’s lacking. I know we have these executive women in government kind of groups that you can go to, some mentoring breakfast or whatever. But there isn’t a mentoring culture, where people feel like they take an interest in someone and help them be successful. Wynn: It must be an agency thing, because EPA has that. I’m part of a bunch of different informal “THAT MYTH THAT YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN HAVING A HARD-CORE CAREER OR BEING A REALLY GREAT MOM, I THINK THOSE BOUNDARIES HAVE REALLY BLURRED IN TECH.” Kathy Conrad, General Services Administration 0115fcw_014-021.indd 20 1/7/15 3:12 PM
November and December 2014