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Sitecore Symposium 2018: Empowering Women in Technology

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Paige ONeill, Sitecore’s Chief Marketing Officer, led the first Women in Tech panel discussion. This panel, featuring 18 female Sitecore MVPs including Perficient Digital’s own Wendy Derstine, was an insightful, inspirational, and thought provoking discussion.


The #MovetheDial movement was started to help close the gender gap in technological industries. Its goal is to encourage and increase the participation of women in technology, particularly in leadership. During the panel discussion, several shocking statistics were shared:

  • Only 22% of computing jobs are held by women
  • Tech companies’ executive teams, on average, are comprised of only 13% women
  • Only 6% of tech companies have a female CEO

Women in Tech Panel Questions

So many important questions were asked during this session, however, I’ve included some of the highlights below.

  • How did the women in Sitecore panel come to be?
    • Last year, at Symposium, there was a noticeable lack of women speakers.  When the call for papers came out for Symposium 2018, Isabel Tinoco took the lead to put together a female panel discussion.  It gives women a community to help inspire other women to grow, feel confident in applying for higher up positions and be recognized as MVPs.
  • Why do organizations benefit from enabling more women in roles of technology and leadership?
    • Women can bring a different point of view to a discussion.  As consultants and leaders, being able to see a problem from the most possible ways helps you find the best solution.
  • What are the barriers that women in technology feel that we as a community help overcome?
    • “Many of the challenges I am facing are not different than the challenges of my male counterparts.  It is not only hard to prove your competency in such a highly competitive industry, but an extra burden is added to avoid being judged, questioned every time you make a technical decision.” – Ishraq Al Fataftah
    • Any group that is underrepresented can easily feel that they are not worthy.  Whether it be in contributing to a conversation or asking for a promotion.  It was mentioned that a woman will only apply for a job if she meets 100% of the criteria, whereas a man will apply if he meets 60% of the criteria.  We need to create an environment where women know that they have a voice and what they have to say is important.
  • In what ways may my organization inadvertently by creating a gender gap?
    • We tend to give women the job of taking care of the office.  This usually includes ordering supplies, cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes and cleaning bathrooms.  There are certain people that happen to be females that don’t mind doing these tasks.  But we shouldn’t take advantage of that.  And we shouldn’t expect that these tasks can only be done by females.  Men should feel comfortable volunteering for these tasks as well.
  • How can women balance a personal and professional life with the demands of a career in technology?
    • Learn to say no.  It’s okay to say no.  One person can’t accomplish everything.  Not staying late at work in order to take care of your family shouldn’t disqualify you from being looked at for a promotion.
    • Women are viewed as taking care of everything else first: house, partners, kids, family; and any time that is left (which is very little) is for them to do what they want.  That is not sustainable.
  • How can we inspire and develop the newest generation of women looking to grow their careers in technology?
    • It starts with the people around you.  Let your kids and your neighbors’ kids know that women can be and do anything.  You don’t have to fit the techie stereotypes to be in technology.  Have women in leadership positions to be role models.  Be a mentor to a female starting a career in technology.  This not only helps the person being mentored but the person doing the mentoring as well.  It can be a symbiotic relationship.  Let others know that you are a mentor.  Gain a reputation for being a supporter of women in technology and fostering new talent.

The First Step – Be Aware

It’s unfortunate that in 2018, we need to have a discussion about being diverse and inclusive.  Taking the next logical step, we need to be including all people regardless of gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.
While writing this post, I thought of a multitude of ways we inadvertently create a gender gap.  Using the phrases like “hey guys” when addressing a room multiple genders is one example that quickly came to mind.  We are a male-dominated society and the masculine pronoun is generally the default when we communicate.  This one word “guys” can automatically discount the females in the room.
I will personally try to #movethedial by addressing a group with gender-neutral pronouns.  What will you do to #movethedial?
You can watch the full presentation here
Find the rest of my notes from Sitecore Symposium 2018

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Eric Sanner, Solutions Architect

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