After benefits packages, mentorship may be the most important factor in workplace gender diversity, say these women in tech.
If you're serious about building a gender-diverse workplace, the hands-down most important factor to consider is family.
Family benefits, including parental leave, work from home options and schedule flexibility topped the list of the most valuable benefits among the attendees of our first-ever all-woman Technical.ly Delaware
stakeholders meeting, held last week before our NET/WORK
jobs fair. But there is another building block of the workplace that is just as important: networking, including the ever-valuable mentor/mentee relationships (in whatever forms they take). Here are some highlights on the subject from our March 20 stakeholder's meeting:
Encourage confidence in girls Sharon Kelly Hake
, CEO of Great Dames
— an organization with a mission to help women meet their professional goals — stresses the importance of mentoring youth. "We’ve consciously tried to be very inclusive with mentorships, including men and inter-generational efforts," she said. That includes young women still in high school. "The perspectives those [young] women bring makes our work so much richer, and when they go out into the community they’ve had experiences where they’ve been valued," Hake said.
Make networking accessible, not intimidating Janelle Bowman, marketing manager for Zip Code Wilmington, used networking to boost women's enrollment in the initially male-dominated coding boot camp program. "When I first got to Zip Code, there were maybe two women in class of 30," she said. "We started with Cocktails and Conversation — a casual networking, fluid, woman-focused event with a light prep session." Female enrollment has skyrocketed since — the current class is 60 percent women, Bowman said.
Don't define mentoring too narrowly
The idea that mentoring has to be time consuming can be discouraging — and can upend more casual relationships that can be equally fulfilling. "The busier you get the harder [mentoring] is to do," said Beth Ann Ryan, deputy director at Delaware Libraries. "How do you do it?" she asked the group.
"Sometimes one good interaction is all it takes," said Jennifer Knecht
, founder of Inspiring Women in STEM
, who described mentorship as "a balance between personal empowerment and corporate culture."
Hake noted that, while it's nice to have a long-term co-mentoring relationship, "one conversation can have a difference in someone’s life. Don’t be afraid to just do that and not feel like you’re signing up for a lifetime commitment." "I’ve had amazing female bosses and people in my life," said Erica Marshall, founder of Defendant Data Solutions. "It doesn’t have to be a formal mentor-mentee relationship. I continue to look toward strong leaders in the workplace — those are the ones that last."
University City Science Center CEO Stephen Tang is now an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
Tang was chosen as one of 27 members of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced today. NACIE is an independent board within the Commerce Department’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Tang will advise Pritzker on “issues related to accelerating innovation, expanding entrepreneurship, and developing a globally competitive workforce,” according to the release.
Tang previously served on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Innovation Advisory Board and testified before Congress before.
This summer, the Science Center was highlighted in a Brookings report on “innovation districts.” -30-