Sweetpea, Invisibility, and Bragging: #ELEVATE-ing women in the workplace
Why aren’t more women getting to the top of organisations? What do they need to do differently? Is it particularly difficult for women to get on in the tech-industry? Angels of Impact’s resident gurus, Laina and Audrey, confronted these issues at when they were keynote speakers alongside senior women from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and IT firm Akamai at the most recent Connected Women Singapore gathering at Twitter HQ.
Connected Women Singapore was formed by ladies at Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, MasterCard and Facebook, to connect and inspire women across the tech industry to fulfil their potential. Wednesday’s #ELEVATE event brought together over 100 women — and a few men — to ask “how do we elevate our career and own our success?”
“Have you ever said something in a meeting that went unheard, only for a man to say the same thing minutes later to wild applause?” This was Laina’s first question when she took the stage — and the audience nodded vigorously! Laina has been a pioneer for women in the tech industry throughout her 25-year career: she was the first woman Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Internet Association in the mid-1990s, the first woman policy advisor at the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre and is an International Steering Committee member of the Global Telecom Women’s Network.
“When I started I used to wear dark colours, tie my hair back — do everything I could to make my colleagues forget I was a woman,” she told the crowd. Referring to Lois Frankel’s book, ‘Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office’, Laina offered her tips for success.
- Learn to brag more. Hundreds of studies have shown that women tend to be more self-critical than men, and this hurts them in the workplace. “Learn to be proud of your achievements — and claim responsibility for them. It’s what the men are doing, and it’s working for them.”
- Use your invisibility. Women — and women of colour in particular — can find themselves invisible (as this brilliant Superbowl advert shows!) Laina’s advice? Use it. “I found that men were more likely to confide in me because they didn’t see me as a threat. I picked up extremely useful information about people and organisations by being invisible.”
- Quote the stats. Women are a good investment. And we have proof. Just check out the ‘WHY?’ page on our site: women-led companies perform better. Women shouldn’t be shy about saying it.
- Look after each other — and pay it forward. A mentor can help you define your goals, plan how to achieve them — and most importantly, help you recognise your own success. And there’s good news: a quick show of hands found that most of the women in the room had mentors.
The panel that followed was chaired by Senior Director of Product Sales and Strategy at Twitter Maya Hari and consisted of Angels of Impact’s own Audrey Tan, plus Senior Director at Akamai Rachel Fitzpatrick, Head of Lynda Sales at LinkedIn Alex Roza, APAC Head of Gaming at Facebook Melinda Petrunoff. They talked about using humour to diffuse sexism “when someone calls me sweetheart, I call them sweetpea. They don’t do it again”. They talked about the importance of sharing the family workload — and using tech to make life easier. And most of all they talked about how important it is to always be learning, to take risks and to look after one another.
See you at the next one!