Hiding in plain sight.

Well ladies, summer is coming to an end and we’ll admit that we might have taken the last couple months off to relax and enjoy summer sunshine. Who are we kidding? We were head down feverishly planning our next amazing event. Wait for it... wait...for...it.....


That's right ladies. The WTF event series is going global and will be hosting our first international event at Capacity Europe in October. Details and a save the date is coming soon so stay tuned and tell your friends. We would be remiss to not mention what we're doing in the 2+ months leading up to our next event so it’s time to get back into the swing of things and launch a new blog series.

Our ITW event was successful in so many ways but one of the biggest highlights came from our panel. We had four amazing and inspiring women talking about their observations as women in our industry and we were so moved that we wanted to share this with the rest of our community. Today marks the start of a series of blogs highlighting some of our favorite takeaways and ah-ha moments and we hope to continue to share stories like this moving forward. One of the best things about this community is that each of us has something to contribute to help each other grow. That’s why we wanted to share some of this with you.  So with that here is the first of our 3-part ITW Takeaways Series!

We asked our panelists about their personal experience with being a woman in our industry and posed the following question:

What has your experience been with gender diversity in technology over the course of your career?

When we were planning the panel a lot of us figured it would lead to a discussion about gender disparity in tech and then evolve into a discussion about what we could do to solve it, but instead we were surprised with how the conversation evolved. No one threw out the infamous percentages that we all see in articles blasting tech companies for not being female friendly. Instead the conversation shifted inward.

Suddenly gender diversity became about how we identify externally and how this has evolved over time. Some had felt the pressure early on in their careers to not look “too feminine” in order to be taken seriously, while others felt more confident in not hiding their femininity from their male colleagues.

“I felt like I needed to assimilate to really fit in. I cut my hair, wore male boxy suits and cufflinks, and looked 10 years older than I look today. I generally tried to do everything I could to be taken seriously and not for my looks but for my mind.”
— Amber Caramella, Senior Vice President

It was refreshing to hear varying perspectives since it’s something we all probably think about - whether consciously or subconsciously - at work. How we present ourselves to the world undoubtedly impacts our confidence. How many of us are familiar with the terms "fake it until you make it" or "dress for the job you want, not the job you have". These sayings exist for a reason and for a lot of us we took it to heart and dressed the part. Or at least that's what we thought... 

“I refused to dress like a man, act like a man, and as a matter of fact I would polish my nails and wear perfume and climb down in a manhole to dig up the splice pits. I just didn’t understand why the male dominated world didn’t believe that women couldn’t do the same job. I never expected the man to do the job for me. That was my early early days and that permeated throughout my entire career. I’m confident,  I show that I’m confident in the work that I do and I’m able to do the same work that men do.”
— Kris Bennett, Senior Strategic Negotiator

What moved us about the experience was each of us came into our industry at different times and had different strategies that lead to our success. Many of us were surprised to hear the exact opposite about what we assumed to be the truth. Some called it assimilation for fear of judgement or being held back, others called it doing what needed to be done to get to where they are today, and others simply called it being themselves. Whether we like it or not, we acknowledged that gender does play a role in how we see ourselves in the workplace and in our industry. Read What a Woman Sees if you are looking for a good way to add a little levity to this topic.

Be that as it may, it’s our capabilities that keep us here and it's our community that keeps us moving closer to our authentic selves.

Brynn + Nadia