Women-in-Tech Narrative Aims to Empower and Inspire

This article is reposted from Business 2 Community. Read the original posting here: https://www.business2community.com/leadership/women-in-tech-narrative-aims-to-empower-and-inspire-02052220

An industry narrative presents a great opportunity for organizations of all types to stand for something higher than “what they do.” Crafting a narrative that aims to inspire industry change is the stuff that sets true market leaders apart and determines business winners and category champions.

Sometimes it’s hard to grasp how a strategic narrative – not traditional messaging or storytelling – can impact markets and change behavior.

A powerful example of an industry narrative that continues to illuminate, expose industry truths and inspire change for the better is the “women-in-tech” narrative.

Having spent close to 30 years in the high-tech industry, the last 19 years running Catapult with my business partner, Terri Douglas, we’ve worked to support the “women-in-tech” movement as best we can. In particular, we have helped support two great industry events that are making a difference. Here in Colorado there’s the WILD Summit – “We’ll shatter ceilings, break molds, and challenge the gender status-quo (stereotypes?) as we find greener pastures for women in leadership/business.” And, in San Francisco, there’s Tech By Superwomen – “An intersectional and intergenerational movement changing the conversation to one on data and culture for everyone, focusing on what works and what matters.”

For those looking to harness the power of narrative within the realm of marketing, the women-in-tech narrative is a great example of inspiring change through a collective, higher-level voice. Blogs, local MeetUps, mentoring, non-profits and national conferences have grown through the years to focus on issues that spark debate, raise awareness and chart a course for change. It’s the growing narrative that outlines the trends and realities of both the past and present, it points out areas for improvement, and it inspires the tech community at large to take positive action to improve the opportunities and stature of women in tech – and to improve the overall success of the industry at large.

With the Tech By Superwomen conference starting May 3, I asked the following question to four amazing women in tech that are speaking at the conference:

How has the women-in-tech narrative inspired positive change within the industry?

Thanks to the larger women-in-tech narrative, one of the great outcomes has been an increased level of awareness and conversation about the various issues that are preventing women from entering, staying or advancing in the technology field. With these insights we are able to apply an innovation mindset toward supporting women in tech, including taking it beyond HR into the technology organization to support women once they are on-board.

The women-in-tech narrative has also helped to demystify what it takes to advance. In one of our listening tours, we learned that many female engineers shy away from architect roles because they don’t know what they are, and so we created a series of educational content to highlight various career paths. We also have found that the conversation has helped to create a sense of community, where technical women can network with each other, including through our own program of Tech Women at Intuit. –  Merline Saintil, Head of Operations for the Technology Organization at Intuit

It so exciting to see the women-in-tech narrative offer inspiration and opportunity within the tech industry, as the number of voices, groups and events grows each and every year. Outlining a clear vision for how women can thrive in tech, and the necessary boundaries needed to enable inclusivity, has resulted in a shift in attitudes and behavior that’s been years in the making. By elevating our story to the industry level, the women-in-tech movement is a great example of how narrative impacts people, companies, industry and society at large. As the narrative grows and leaders emerge, more women feel impowered to tell their story that connects and inspires a new wave of leaders. – Cathryn Posey, Founder, Tech Superwomen Summit

I’ve been working in tech for over 20 years, and the last four have been the most fun by far. The pool of people who want to improve tech’s culture through a collective, inspiring voice is expanding quickly. While we’re still fragmented across the sector, it’s exciting to see the women-in-tech narrative grow to inspire and empower more groups of people to organize and promote positive change. From #FoundersChange to an emerging #TimesUpTech initiative, there is new energy that is sorely needed. We need to use this momentum to keep the narrative focused on diversity issues that intersect within and beyond gender as well. Folks are finally understanding, and we see more awareness, that the companies building diverse, inclusive companies are the ones that will win.  – Nicole Sanchez, CEO of Vaya Consulting, Lecturer at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

When I was in high school in the 90s/early 2000s, we didn’t have a lot of visible female role models – the fact that I did AP computer science was mostly of a function of having an interest in technology. I had great family support and was very stubborn about participating in spaces that I didn’t necessarily feel welcome. For me, looking at how the industry narrative has changed over the last two decades, there are two huge wins. We now have a strong, collective voice and many amazing organizations and efforts that are being spearheaded by truly inspirational women. Today’s women-in-tech story focuses on bringing positive change to the industry – and encouraging and empowering women thinking of entering the tech industry. A growing number of initiatives, like Project Include, Backstage Capital, Female Founders Conference, Code 2040 and Black Girls Code, demonstrate the power of narrative to connect and welcome. We also see the increased visibility and recognition of women from so many different backgrounds and ethnicities within tech. When I started my career in tech, I didn’t have access to these role models and the narrative of collective strength and inclusion. There’s so much left to be done, but our story has come a long way.– Kamilah Taylor, Author, Engineer in Residence at Hustle

The power of an industry narrative, in this case “women-in-tech,” is something more marketers are pursuing as organizations of all types aim for the top leadership position, and themes to drive brand leadership, content market and market influence. Advocating for industry change is aspirational, bold and impactful.