Even in these trying Covid-19 times, professional women are finding ways to connect and support each other.
I recently hosted a Women in Business Expo roundtable -- which included participants from different cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life -- on the topic of working in a technology role and managing Imposter Syndrome. Some of the participants worked in tech; some worked in male-dominated fields; some were hoping to get back into the workforce after taking a career break. And while everyone was at different stages in their careers, they all mentioned the importance of meeting women to whom they could relate.
While the roundtable was for women working in many fields, I was especially excited to connect with other women in tech. When I first made the transition into tech from a luxury marketing position, I felt incredibly lost and alone. None of my family members nor my closest friends really understood what I was doing, nevermind what coding actually encompasses.
That was when I realized that I needed to connect with other people who were thinking of getting into or already working in tech. Attending meetups helped me network and meet people who could share their experiences and knowledge with me. They helped me feel less alone, less confused, and more empowered. Without those new bonds and the guidance provided by my mentors, I would have never made it this far. Which is why it means so much to me to support other underrepresented groups in tech and to give back to the tech community.
One thing that really stood out to me was how willing this group was to see the silver linings, even in such trying times. For example, the majority of the attendees expressed gratitude at having the opportunity to participate in the conference, despite the global pandemic. I heard things like:
We also explored Imposter Syndrome, including the societal forces that lead to women suffering from it and how we could alleviate the pressures that come with it.
To be completely honest, this was a tough topic for me to talk about, as I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis. In fact, the simple act of hosting the roundtable made me feel incompetent. How was I supposed to talk about overcoming Imposter Syndrome when I’m not even there yet? But instead of telling myself I couldn’t do it, I shared a few techniques that have helped me tackle Imposter Syndrome, both on an individual level, as well as from a managerial perspective. They’re techniques that have worked for me in the past.
We also talked about the complications of working in a male-dominated field. The majority of the participants could relate to this topic. I emphasized the importance of recognizing our self-worth and reminding ourselves that we each bring something valuable to the table. And as a great example of doing just that, we talked about the US vice presidential debate, during which Senator Kamala Devi Harris politely responded to Vice President Mike Pence interrupting her with, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”
These topics are massive and no one roundtable could ever even begin to cover all of our thoughts and feelings about them. And there’s no doubt that we were all keen about the subjects discussed: The session overran by a few minutes and, before we knew it, it was time to say our goodbyes. I was sad to see everyone go but, at the same time, I was grateful. Because I knew we would all go back to our own worlds feeling energized to push things forward for women in business, one incremental step at a time.
Avast's Janine Luk looks back on this year's codebar festival, a three-day virtual conference aimed at facilitating a diverse community within the tech industry.