Last week, ARA hosted Women in Tech: The Male Perspective.
The panel presentation featured Matt Hancock, Executive Director, Chicago Tech Academy High School; Roger Liew, CTO, Orbitz; Howard Tullman, CEO, 1871; Bob Miano, CEO and President, Harvey Nash, Inc.; with Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-Founder, i.c.stars moderating. We also welcomed guest presenter Brenna Berman, Commissioner and CIO at the Department of Innovation and Technology for the City of Chicago.
It was ARA’s largest event yet with approximately 250 attendees. As a co-founder of ARA, along with Jane Gilligan Hamner of Harvey Nash, Inc. and Leslie Vickrey of ClearEdge Marketing, I could not have been more thrilled—or proud. Check out some photos HERE.
Despite the crowd, comprised both of men and women, the topic was met with some trepidation and garnered a fair amount of positive and controversial chatter on Twitter in the days and hours leading to the event.
The burning question many were asking was why women should care what men think. It even was top of mind for some participating in the program.
The answer, from my perspective, is simple.
The conversation about attracting, retaining, and advancing women in technology is not one that can be had in isolation, especially when organizations large and small are feeling the effect of talent shortages.
In addition, if you look at current statistics—namely data from the Harvey Nash, Inc. CIO Survey 2013—most hiring IT managers and CIOs are men so it is critical to get their perspectives to keep moving up. Plus, with a lack of senior women in IT, the possibility of having a male mentor is pretty strong.
With all of this in mind, ARA put together a panel of male leaders from different facets of the Chicago technology community who shared their perspective on what is necessary for women to play a more significant role—both in volume and influence—in the tech industry.
My key takeaways from the evening:
- Brenna Berman – Be open to men as mentors and respected by your male peers. Both women and men will move us forward.
- Matt Hancock – You can’t just protest what’s wrong. You have to build the world as you’d like it to be.
- Sandee Kastrul – As women, we are so good at setting tables for others, now it’s time to take a seat and eat at the place we set.
- Roger Liew – When offered an opportunity, say yes. The person who offered has decided you are capable.
- Bob Miano – Data in this year’s Harvey Nash, Inc. CIO Survey shows we aren’t moving women up the ladder. We are not filling the funnel and we need to do something about it.
- Howard Tullman – I’ve been gender blind throughout my career; the focus should be on results.
There were so many more eye-opening insights and perspectives which were shared; these snippets just scratch the surface of what certainly was an engaging discussion.
My burning question as a follow-up to the evening would be what is next.
Again, I think the answer is simple—ongoing and open dialogue.
The conversation about women in technology is not a singular conversation – everyone needs to be involved. To accomplish this, we must foster relationships, build communities, and provide mentoring opportunities. Taking these steps will support filling the funnel which, in turn, will help attract, retain, and advance women in technology.