I had the opportunity to attend the Collision Conference which was held in New Orleans the first week of May. This tech conference, which is a spinoff of the annual WebSummit conference, has been growing each year since its inception just 4 years ago and this year was reported to host over 11,000 attendees with 42% of them being Women in Tech. To support this growing population, Collision hosted several target sessions and mini-events and one of my favorite sessions (of the week) was a session featuring Sophia Bush and Alysia Reiner entitled “Feminism is not a Liability Session.” I’d like to offer you now, 5 takeaways from this session that resonated with me.
- Hire. Invest. Mentor. In her opening remarks, actress and producer Alysia Renier summed up her action steps for supporting women in these three words. Attracting more women into tech is going to take a lot from the existing community and we all will need to make a concerted effort to advance women. Many times it isn’t the obvious choice, and sometimes you will be taking a risk, but we will not see women enter the industry or move up in business until the people in power can start making that happen.
- Feminism is Equality. “I am so pissed that we have to keep talking about what it means to be a ‘feminist storyteller’” – Sophia Bush. Feminism isn’t about putting women first, it’s about getting to the point where we have removed gender as consideration or qualification for a job.
- Be Vocal and Say Yes. It is important for women in tech to talk to other women and to be supportive and SAY YES when asked for advice and guidance. The only way that young women will see there is a place for them in the industry is to hear from other women who are where they want to see themselves. There is such a shortage of women in the industry, it’s imperative that all of us, novice and experienced, make sure we are supporting and empowering each other.
- Take Up Space. It is important for women to take up the space they are given – literally and figuratively. When talked over in a meeting, or pushed to the chairs along the wall, be sure to speak up and use the voice and audience to share your opinion and make change.
- Give of Yourself. While financial contributions go a long way with many organizations, more often than not, giving of your time, experiences, and expertise, can make the greatest impact in someone else’s life.