Women leaders in tech: how to arrive, survive and thrive

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Last week I attended a panel on ‘Women leaders in tech: how to arrive, survive and thrive’, an event that focused on how Vancouver tech companies can attract and retain women in leadership roles. Run by the UBC Computer Science department and sponsored by Tasktop as part of our company’s ongoing commitment to diversity in tech, the evening featured a star-studded roster of women panelists, all of whom are leaders in tech in one form or another:

Before the event started, the crowd chatted with excitement as they gazed up at the panel of idols in front of them. On the surface, it wasn’t too dissimilar to any other tech gathering, yet somehow it felt as if we were in the presence of gladiators. For many of us, these women were not simply successful people but representations of ideals we hold dear — of values that we etched into the foundation of who we are as women in engineering.

As the introduction began, three things became evident:

  • All of these women have vast experience in honing their mediation skills over years of navigating an androcentric environment
  • The focus for the night would be providing tips and perspectives that may help individuals in the room gain a new lease on their current career development
  • These individuals were removed from us in many ways like a professor reminding students that they were once one too
A captivated audience

For some of us, the women on the panel represented a bright possibility, but one that many of us realize we are very unlikely to reach in the current climate. For others, these accomplished women walk on the opposing track as officers removed from the trenches. There was so much to be said and shared among the women there, that even when the panel ran overtime, a great many stayed behind to engage those who were willing to stay.

My key takeaway from the evening include:

  • Make it up as you go, it’s okay to be wrong
  • Name three things when you step into the unknown, it gives you structure which allows the speaker to have breathing room (you don’t have to have three)
  • There are stereotypes because there aren’t enough of us in the industry
  • Advice of which to be mindful: perspective means a lot — don’t embody Sisyphus (if it’s not working, it’s okay to move on to another position that’s more fulfilling); try not to believe in the glass ceiling as a self-fulfilling prophecy could be your undoing

Regardless of perspective, each of us walked out having a better idea of the challenges we may face, and with luck, ingenuity, and a great amount of persistence, we can dissipate some of these issues for those that come after us leaving this industry a little better than when we found it.

Tasktop’s commitment to diversity

  • We support programs for women and socio-economic diversity in tech (such as Women In Product 2018 (Austin) event
  • Tasktop President and COO, Neelan Choksi, serves as a trustee at TechGirlz, a non-profit working to get adolescent girls excited about technology
  • Members from Tasktop engineering team have previously participated in the Technovation Challenge, an initiative designed to help give girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills they need to emerge as technology entrepreneurs and leaders
  • All author royalties from our Mik’s book Project to Product are donated to not-for-profit organizations supporting diversity, women, and minorities in technology
  • Women that inspire Tasktopians
  • Our VP of Product Development, Nicole Bryan, works tirelessly to inspire girls and younger women to explore a career in tech, advocating the concept of role model ladders:

Get in touch

We’re always looking for new opportunities and initiatives to advance diversity in tech – please get in touch with Ashley Ward if you want to know more.