This is the second part of the highlights of the Red Chair Pittsburgh event from early November. The information here is NOT an exact transcript. This is a paraphrased version of what the panelists had to say during the Q&A.
Background of Panelists:
Julie Straub – Global IT Director, PPG
Antoinette(“Toni”) Murphy – Comcast Regional VP
Michele R. McGough – Founder and CEO, Solutions4netoworks, Pittsburgh, PA
Priscilla J. Beal – Digital Innovation, Bayer US LLC.
Lori Crozier – VP IT, Digital Technology Delivery & eBusiness at ThermoFisher Scientific.
How they got started:
- Julia: Was not exposed to computers in high school; started as a math major. Male peers whom were dual math and computer majors pushed her to get involved in computers.
- Tony Murphy: French and Econ major until she then focused on IT companies. Comcast for 9 years. Done everything from product development to… [etc.]
- Michelle: 1st to go to college as an Economics major and then graduated. I was offered telecommunications job and loved the continuous learning.
- Lori: My family didn’t even have a computer as a child; in my youth, I worked in office for a small company. Nothing was computerized. They automated and asked me to get it working for them. I am big into project management as well.
- Priscilla: I have a masters in art history. I spent my time working in museums. Trying to entice viewers, I led the team who had to learn how to use technology to make the sculptures come alive. This led me into digital marketing, and 10 years working on digital strategy. I soon after joined Bayer and now head up the innovation team.
How to move into Leadership:
- Priscilla: Apply passion to you being inspiring.
- Lori: People are looking to do well and want to be a part of something meaningful and important, you are important to give them vision and to create the enthusiasm around it.
- Julie: Develop relationships, trust, and respect with your team. This is critical for them to follow you as a leader.
Challenges & advocates:
- Toni: Have mentors advice and sponsors put your name behind theirs. Here’s a general rule: 60% of my time I am doing my job, and the rest I’m telling about what I’m doing. Ask for what you want and you will get it. Be brave.
- Michelle: Me and 3 other coworkers were sued for trying to conspire against boss to get him fired – we were accused but that was not the case. I was in a bad place with personal issues and shut down. When I began to put my company together, and we were getting ready to file for a patent, I learned he [a disgruntled, fired employee] stole the intellectual property before the patent. Two of the women said don’t worry about it(legal fees), we had the same issue happen; it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
- Lori: Think about what you want, network early in your career, don’t wait to use your network – keep it active and live. Use those who will be a good guide for you and get lifelong advocates.
- Priscilla: Take into consideration what qualities they have that are inspiring and then think about it – is that what I want to do? are they happy? and is that something I could be happy doing? Listen to your gut.
- Toni: from a sponsor’s perspective, are you a rockstar that I can be proud of? and what is something that I get in return here? As you move up, you need to use the mentees to connect too.
- Julie: It does not have to be a formal advocate. Have courage. Ask people further up in their career. Be open to really ask.
- Toni: Paint the picture for where you’re going. Rate yourself – validate yourself!
- Michele: Keep a notepad and keep track of what you have accomplished. Self review. Justify your raise.
Women blame themselves for what is wrong which can be a bad thing because when you’re not looking at your accomplishments, you’re lowering your confidence.
How to bring out confidence:
- Lori: CONFIDENCE GAP! (Meaning: understand that you are just as capable as the men, and that they are more confident because they have been told that because they are men that they belong here; understand that you belong just as much as them because you are just as capable.)
- Julie: Don’t think you need to have all of the skills for the job.
- Michelle: In a CMU study, when asked if they could do the next job, we[women] think about it and men immediately say they’ll do it. Interview woman vs man, this comes off as a difference in confidence. (Meaning: Confidence gives an impression that you are more capable.)
How do you balance projects with your personal life:
- Toni: I am married, and my husband is in IT. I have 3 kids, ages 6, 4, and 2. Be sure to have a good support system. Leadership is a gift but learn to be okay with delegation. Don’t think you have to prove yourself over and over again because that is you secretly degrading yourself.
- Priscilla: I have 3 kids. You need to love what you do; if you can’t leave your kids for it, don’t do it. Find personal satisfaction. See yourself as a role model.
- Lori: Be an aspiration but be good to yourself.
Big Theme here: Be BRAVE Be CONFIDENT
- Women are just as capable as men, but overall women approach the computing field more timid due to a lack of confidence.
- These women are successful because they are not only brilliant, but CONFIDENT.
- They are all very open, honest, and respectful leaders who prove that you can find a good balance in your life.
- Women do not have to do everything.
- Women can still have a highly successful career while still having children.
- It is important to understand that women can do anything, and that it is important to get out there and be brave.
- The wage gap only exists because we let it exist; we have laws against it, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get the fair wage you deserve due to culture.
- Be confident.
- Log yourself and prove your credentials.
- ASK: for the raise, what others get paid, etc. ASK questions.
- Address any discrepancies between your wage, and that of your male counterpart(s).