Women in Data: 7x24 Exchange August Event
Mark Bauer 08/31/2020
This week the 7x24 Exchange met for its monthly conference in conjunction with WiMCO, or Women in Mission Critical Operations. WiMCO’s focus is on promoting the engagement and participation of women throughout the industry by providing various opportunities and initiatives that aid in developing personal skills and networks.
With that, this month’s event was led by Dr. Julie Albright, a sociologist by trade focusing on the growing intersection of technology and social/behavioral systems. She was joined by a roundtable of industry leaders Chris Crosby (Compass Data Centers), Eli Grieff (Holder Construction) and Rich Reyher (PayPal) who were all able to weigh in on their paths to success as well as the women around them who have facilitated that success.
Regardless of gender, building a strong sense of confidence is paramount to finding success in your career within any industry; especially in a mission critical environment. Throughout their professional experiences, the panel has seen a noticeable difference in the confidence level between men and women when it came to taking varying levels of risk in the workplace. Before taking risks, women, more often than not, needed to have “all boxes checked off” before partaking in said risk. This could mean varying levels of due diligence and consulting, with the implication of possibly losing some or all of the benefit from that transaction. Men, on the other hand, tend to move forward without checking all of those boxes. There are benefits to both approaches, however, capitalizing on opportunities with a possible first mover’s advantage is often encouraged and extremely advantageous.
Strengths Women Bring
The panel noted the distinct strengths that women bring to the table in both junior and executive roles. Everyone praised the need for diversity in professional situations, as like-minded leadership and teams will lead to stale results. Women bring very diverse traits to the table in their observational and storytelling skills that bring a competitive edge to reading rooms and diffusing situations. Most of the panel noted that they lean to their female colleagues almost 100% of the time when they need to know exactly how an encounter is going. They always receive hidden insight that they weren’t considering beforehand that aids in furthering projects and relationships. Women tend to also be the voice of reason when it comes to diffusing situations, as they’re willing to get the group to take a step back and focus on the task at hand. Overall, these intrinsic qualities have been priceless tools throughout the panel’s professional careers.
So how do we help women who may be struggling as well as those who have already found their way gather even more success throughout this industry? A quick, obvious answer would be to focus on the two points above: building confidence and leveraging the diverse strengths that women bring to the table. There is, however, a very important strategy missing and that is visibility. Finding a success is in the professional environment is very difficult, and it’s made even more difficult with little to no visibility in the workplace. What does that mean exactly? Do your peers know who you are? Do they also respect you and your contributions to the team? The same goes for your superiors. Do they know who you are and what you bring to the table? That is visibility in a nutshell. Your colleagues need to know exactly who you are and what you do for the team while being comfortable in relying on you for day to day tasks.
How can we help with this? Bring your female colleagues along to meetings they might not originally be in. Ask for their opinion often whether or not they’re involved in your situation and relay their great ideas to other members of the team. This is how you can increase visibility for your female colleagues, which in turn builds true confidence and allows strengths to be easily leveraged.
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