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As a tribute to Women’s History Month, Leadership Connect hosted a women-centric webinar on March 14 focused on women in technology and the challenges and opportunities women have in a traditionally male-dominated industry to break the glass ceiling and create a brighter future for women in the workforce. 


The expert panel included:   

  • Fatima Terry, Deputy Director, Digital Services, USDA  
  • Cherilyn Pascoe, Director of NIST, National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence 
  • Lawana Jones, SVP, Chief Technology Officer, United Way Worldwide 
  • Jamie Danker, Senior Director of Cybersecurity and Privacy Solutions
    Venable, LLP 
  • Kara Gundel, Senior Director of Public Policy, Engine Technology Forum 
  • Moderated by Victoria Hodge, Associate Product Manager, Leadership Connect 

Check out the top take-aways below to learn how to become a successful woman in the technological landscape. Missed the conversation? Watch the rebroadcast here. 

1. Find your tribe 

    • Mentorship motivation. Whether you’re early in your career or an experienced worker, never stop seeking mentorships. Executive mentors, industry experts, or anyone else with great subject matter knowledge that you meet along the way can help you get your foot in the door and support the risks you take to advance your career.  
    • Find your voice. As a woman, it can be hard to jump in headfirst and have your ideas taken seriously right off the bat. One way to do that is by finding your voice and having the confidence to use it. Once you’ve found your voice, you can use it to lift other women up as well. 
    • Rely on the buddy system. In addition to your mentors, find some peers at your same career level to navigate the waters together. Lean on each other, support each other, and advocate for each other. Knowing you have that support in your back pocket can give you the confidence you need. 
    • Head straight to the top. Never be afraid to make connections at the top. Send that LinkedIn message or email to the CEO or executives. Getting on their radar can only help you in the future and it’s a chance for you to prove yourself in your industry. 
Pro tip #1: Don’t know where to start building your tribe? Leadership Connect can help. You can start with our advanced search feature to find a community you’re interested in. From there you can choose a company or job title that interests you and search through org charts and people profiles to find and instantly connect with the people you want in your corner. 

Let’s use Fatima as an example! View her profile as well as her company’s org chart. 

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2. Future generational change starts in the community 

  • Remember your purpose. Our panelists all echoed that seeing a change in their community for young girls is what drives them in their careers. Never forget why you’re there. 
  • Role models are meant to be seen. Without real women doing real, impactful work in technology, the future generation has nothing to model themselves after. If you’re a woman in STEM, make yourself visible. Show young girls or women early in their careers that you are there paving the way for them and that you are a resource for them to lean on as you challenge the status quo before their eyes. 
  • Stop apologizing. Start doing. Our panelists all noted that women have the stereotype of being too shy or sensitive in tech spaces. Well, the best way to break that stereotype is to ditch the apologies and become action oriented. 
  • Be the boss that you are. Stand your ground when challenged particularly in a male-dominated field. Don’t let intimidation or fear break you down. If you have a great idea you believe in, stick with it and make your ideas visible to others to garner support. 

3. Diversity strengthens solutions 

  • Broaden talent pool. Never forget that your unique perspective as a woman holds so much value as you can rely on your experiences which can drive different solutions. 
  • Women are consumers. Did you know that most of the AI attacks recently have happened to women? Or did you know that most consumer products are marketed to women as buyers? If women are the targeted population, it only makes sense that women have a say in the business behind cybersecurity, technology, sales, and so much more. Always remember that if you find yourself lost in the male-dominated offices. 

4. Believe in yourself 

  • Curiosity leads to innovation. Know when to push yourself forward by leaning on your curiosity. Wondering why things are done a certain way? Look further into it and see where it can take you and what your curiosity can bring forth. 
  • Claim your seat at the table. No one is going to fight harder for you than YOU will. Don’t wait for an invitation – take risks and elbow your way to the table and get your thoughts and opinions heard. 
  • Confidence over criticism. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that women still face a lot of criticism in the workforce. Our panelists gave examples of people assuming they’d be men, having their qualifications questioned, and many other little things that can chip away at your confidence. By focusing on your self-confidence and bolstering that confidence through doing your homework and research, you can conquer that criticism. 

5. Lean on your resources 

  • Upskill and learn. Observe, listen, communicate, and ask questions to advance yourself. The need to prove yourself as a women will likely continue throughout your career, so combat that by arming yourself with a breadth of knowledge both from your peers and mentors and through any upskilling opportunity you come across. 
  • Advocate for yourself. Find those opportunities for yourself whether it be asking for raises or seeking lateral movements. Your bosses won’t know what you want, and the pay gap is still very real today. Do your best to get what you deserve by advocating for it and asking. 
  • Relationships: researching and fostering. The best way to stand out is to show the higher ups that you care. You can do that by reaching out with a common interest like a shared university or former colleague. Even after you’ve made initial contact, continue to foster those relationships by sending personal notes. Showing that you’re paying attention and remembering things about their lives, not just their careers, will in turn help them remember you. 
Pro tip #2: Do your researching with Leadership Connect! Once you find your target connection, learn all that you can about them through our people profiles. Find mutual connections, see their education history, and learn about their previous roles. You can even set alerts for them to make sure you’re the first to congratulate them on a career move! Just click the button at the top of the page as you can see here: 
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  • Network, network, network. What’s better than a virtual relationship? Building your network in person! Getting in front of people, speaking to them, and letting them hear your thoughts and goals is the best way to solidify yourself in the tech sphere. 
Pro tip #3: Having a hard time meeting people in person due to a largely virtual workforce? Come on over to our Leadership Connect events! We host community happy hours, webinars, and so much more to give you an opportunity to interact with potential connections. Follow our events page to never miss an opportunity. 

We’ll leave you with this thought just as our panelists left the discussion: The goal is to get to a place where these conversations are no longer needed because the gender gap is fully closed, and the future of women in technology is fearless, powerful, sparkly, beautiful, and “everything. 

Missed the discussion? View the panel here.

Annie Farrell

Digital Content Writer