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Virtual Field Trip: Girls in Tech

Author: Zahra Ahmed, Participant

Girls in Tech and Ubiquity6 hosted a virtual panel featuring dedicated female leaders in technology. They came together to share their experiences and discuss the road ahead amid a global health crisis. The female leaders featured were Sharmeen Browarek Chapp, VP of Product & Engineer: Community, Twitch; Kaye Mason, Senior Software Engineer, Google; Linda Hong, Engineering Manager, Ubiquity6; and Julie Supan, former CMO of YouTube. I was very fortunate to attend this conference and I will be sharing my personal experience and insight.

During the first part of the webinar, the leaders discussed their past experiences regarding their leadership journeys. In particular, I found it interesting when the speakers discussed the many challenges they faced in pursuing leadership roles and what success meant to them. One of the leaders stated that when she was pursuing her leadership career, she felt like success in leadership looked a certain way. As it was very male-dominated, it was challenging for her to figure out her definition of success. When she faced challenges like receiving feedback that was subjective, stylistic advice or based on her personality, she learned to reframe the situation, acknowledge it, and call out instances when this took place. From this short experience-sharing moment, not only was I awed to see her stand up for her work, I was inspired to follow in her footsteps, and not settle for anything less than expected.

One of the other leaders' shared her advice during the conference, "don't let anyone take your controller." She explained her experience when she came across a hard problem and went to ask for help, instead of guiding her through, people ended up solving the problem themselves. She learned to stand up for herself and say that it's her problem, and she needs to learn how to solve it herself, and she needs some guidance that's all. Personally, I felt like the advice is very important, as being in control of one's controller is very important in life.

Another one of the discussion points that I found engaging was when the women discussed the most significant learning opportunities in their leadership journey. One of the speakers told us about one of her most meaningful learning opportunities, and she concluded by advising the listeners to think outside of the box. When solving an issue, don't limit yourself by thinking of only a win-win situation; it's about thinking beyond the problem and making the most of the case, which is essential. This piece of advice was very eye-opening.

I particularly enjoyed listening to the leaders to share their challenges as it proves that it takes hard work and dedication to become an impactful leader. Even though there may be some ups and downs in the journey, the outcome is worth it.

The next part of the webinar focused on the previous work-life, how the pandemic affected work and talked about the future. Adding on, I found it interesting when the leaders spoke about how recent events have changed their work lives. They discussed the difficulties they faced working in remote working, as team members all have different schedules and time zones. The leaders discussed the importance of balancing work and life at home. With ongoing difficulties like online meetings to missing social interactions, the leaders urged the importance of checking-in with team members and supporting them emotionally. They also brought up the positive impacts of remote working. This time helps foster qualities like being thankful and social bonds becoming more potent, as the members have become closer. They elaborated on the importance of making the best during situations that are not preferable. Checking in with team members, and people on your team stay healthy.

One of the critical lessons I learned was to take time for myself and reassess my priorities. The leaders provided insight into the importance of analyzing personal skills, precisely strengths and weaknesses. Be comfortable with what you don't know, build credibility, and be willing to be honest, as that is the key to success.

It was very inspirational listening to the women leaders' personal leadership journey and the ups and the downs. The conference was insightful in terms of the future of leadership and STEM through a female's perspective. After following through with the webinar, I felt empowered and more ambitious to follow my dreams of pursuing a career in leadership and technology.

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