Tech is for women. Diversity is strength.
APRIL 18, 2022 • BLOG POST • SHEILA ROHRA, SVP & GM FOR DATA INFRASTRUCTURE, HPE STORAGE
IN THIS ARTICLE
- In male-dominated industries, spotlighting people and actions that are driving positive change is crucial for success
- HPE is committed to unconditional inclusion, which means actively recruiting and supporting women in technical and leadership roles
- Partnering with the Golden State Warriors to bring visibility to women in leadership roles helps us all be more inclusive
Professional Sports. Engineering. Technology. One thing these areas all have in common is the low percentage of women in the field
There are many reasons why this is the case. For one thing, more than 2 million women left the workforce last year. And while women make up more than 50% of all university graduates in recent years, only about 20% of people graduating with degrees in engineering are women. Another contributing factor is the lack of women in high-visibility roles.
It can be intimidating to be a female and to think about entering a male-dominated field! If you don’t see examples of someone who looks like you doing something you aspire to, it can be hard to imagine yourself doing it.
This is why it is so important to shine a light on the amazing work being done by women in fields where they are outnumbered by men.
Last week, we partnered with the women’s employee resource group at the Golden State Warriors to host an event, bringing women from tech and professional sports together. The event included a screening of our film “In Her Element” and a panel discussion about the challenges women in leadership face.
I was so honored to be included on the panel that Kerith Burke of NBC Sports moderated and included Danette Leighton, CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation; Charmin Smith, Head Coach, Cal Women’s Basketball; and Maria Valdehueza, VP Ticketing, Golden State Warriors.
We were asked to share our personal experiences navigating the world of male-dominated industries, and insights or advice for those aspiring to be leaders and allies.
While each of us has had her own journey, there were several things on which we all agreed:
- Authenticity: Women in leadership positions may feel pressure – or temptation – to look or be or behave a certain way. But it is so important to be authentic in your decisions and relationships. Being true to yourself and having courage in your convictions is crucial for successful leadership.
- Respect: Showing respect to those you are leading, by listening, by showing empathy – even when you may strongly disagree – builds trust between you and lays the foundation for shared success.
- “Keep showing up”: There are many times when you may be the only female in the room. This means if you weren’t there, that room would have zero women in it. Even when it’s uncomfortable or isolating, or challenging, if we are passionate about our field, we have to push through and keep showing up. If we all commit to keep showing up, soon enough, there will be fewer rooms where you’re the only woman.
- “Pressure is a privilege”: This phrase originated with Billie Jean King, the founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and was shared by Danette Leighton, the organization’s CEO. It means that to feel the pressure of making the right decision, of charting the right path, is an opportunity that is only given to those who have proven they are capable. It is a weighty responsibility – and it is easy to get lost in the heft of it. But we must remember that this kind of pressure is actually a privilege.
When I entered the tech industry, female engineers were few and far between. And while there are more women in technology today, we are still by far the minority. Without diverse opinions and perspectives on our teams, we are limited in what we can achieve. We need more diversity – of gender, ethnicity, and background – to challenge our ways of thinking and truly be innovative.
One of the most important things we can do to drive gender equality – in the tech industry or anywhere – is to shine a light on the positive role models and examples we encounter. So many women challenge the conventions and defy the odds and achieve every day. By drawing attention to these stories, we can build momentum for positive change and create a path for younger women to follow.
This is why events like this are so important! The more we can do to bring visibility to the amazing work being done by women like these, the better off we will all be.