Participating in the second annual Women Who Tech TeleSummit was easy and fascinating. I signed in to three sessions. These will mostly be available as poscasts at the Women Who Tech site, so I’m not going to attempt liveblogging. I’ll give you a few highlights that I found particularly worthy or fascinating or just plain quotable.
The conference used phone-in conference calls for audio, and web features that provided a view of slides and a chat window. Over 600 women participated. The stature and accomplishments of the women on the panels was impressive. These are women who are making things happen in the world.
The Feminine Mystique
This panel featured Leslie Hawthorn from Google, Joan Blades from Moveon.org and Moms Rising, Tracy Viselli from Reno Fabulous Media. The moderator was Holly Ross from NTEN.
Holly: We are building an industry in which women are equal. Embrace your nurturing as an asset.
Tracy: What or who do you think about when you hear the word “expert?” Women approach the idea of expertise to their own detriment. Women think they have to know everything before using the label expert. Embrace your expertise. Jump in whenever you have a chance and don’t worry about not knowing everything. Women need to change the way they think about expertise.
Leslie: Teams and groups rely on women to have ‘soft’ skills, yet this is viewed as not quantifiable/valuable and so less valuable. The ‘soft’ skills are often the one factor that means success for teams and groups, yet the skills remain undervalued.
Discussion on Leslie’s comments concluded that women who don’t play the nurturing role and are all business get called the B word. Yet all women aren’t comfortable in the role and shouldn’t be expected to be.
Social media is changing the way technology is discussed because it’s about community building.
Joan: A bias against mothers exists in hiring and career advancement. Women who are mothers are 79% less likely to get a job in tech with an identical resume to a non-mother. Modern, virtual work has opened up the opportunity for women to succeed.
Work has to have the flexibility for both parents to be able to share caregiving. Changes in attitudes about fathers being caregivers while working might create helpful changes in the attitude about women as workers while parenting. Policy issues such as child care, health care and other work culture factors like number of vacation days all need to change, too.
Changes in culture around work and parenting are changes that would make the workplace better for everyone, including non-parents. It would also help the people who are intelligent and creative but not 80-hours-a-week-workers rise to the top. Glorifying extreme work is not healthy. Everyone should not have to aspire to it.
Tools Galore in Online Communications
Laura: Your website is the base of your online communication. What does it say about you? You need content management tools. Email is still critical for almost every organization to reach out and keep in touch, call for action, or whatever. The details in an email are critical: subject line, from line, graphic design, clear communication. Two good standalone broadcast email tools: verticalresponse.com and networkforgood.org. Don’t forget your constituent database.
Natalie: When creating social media campaigns, know what you want to get out of it. Then prioritize the tools so you get the best return on investment. Networks of trust that come from social networks are powerful. Watch the people who are successful on Facebook or MySpace and see how they do it. She also talked about Twitter.
Rebecca: She talked about Google’s mapping tools. Neo-geography. Google earth can create audio narrated presentations about many topics. Google earth presents complex information in vivid ways that are easy to comprehend. Can illustrate logging and mountain-top-removal coal mining in ways that make the implications of obscure proposals understandable. Resulted in legislative action based on Google earth presentation. Also connected people to their personal environmental impact by connecting a zip code from anywhere in the country to the particular mountain top in Appalachia that was being destroyed to provide power. She also talked about the genocide in Darfur visuals on Google earth. If you can use an Excel spreadsheet, you can create a compelling visualization on Google earth.
When thinking about tools to add to your toolkit, start by asking what it is you are trying to accomplish.
Innovation and Tech Career Reinvention
This panel featured Christine Adzich from Big Picture Productions, Sheryl Chamberlain from EMC, Megan Fitzgerald from Career By Choice, and Nancy Wheeler from Intel. The moderator was Dee McCrorey from Risktaking for Success.
Christine: When changing fields, come in as a student and open yourself up to growth. You can still contribute a great deal, even as a student. Be willing to make a lot of mistakes.
Nancy: Take failure as an opportunity to learn. When you are a manager, try not to limit your expectations of what people can do.
Megan: 80% of skills we take with us to any position are related to emotional intelligence: initiative, optimism, adaptability, etc. Not job specific competencies, therefore competencies you can bring with you to a new job. Reflect on your qualities and strengths. Skills are related to these things. Your value to an organization is related to these qualities and strengths. She is @expatcoachmegan on Twitter.
Think about portable assets and then look for projects that play to your skills. Develop a list of questions or a metric that will let you evealuate potential projects based on your skills and work style and the working environment. Set yourself up for success by choosing projects that fit your profile.
Sheryl: EMC has created internal communities using social media as well as external communities. She’s created leadership tools to share both internally and externally. Recognize your vision then build a community around it.
Megan: Understand your personal brand and unique value. Does the information online about you right now support your vision for yourself? Create a professional bio picture. Be active in the right space.
Sheryl: Leave behind the negative things and move on.
Christine: When transferring influence to others, ask questions rather than always giving information. Get a sense of what people are looking for before you try to work with them.
Nancy: When transferring influence, begin deferring publicly to the new mentee.
Some technical asides on the conference: I used TweetGrid to follow the Twitter stream and ran three simultaneous searches: women who tech, #womenwhotech, and #WWT. I like the real time refresh rate on TweetGrid and found it a helpful tool. The audio conference ran on Ready Talk, which worked fairly well. There were glitches, but mostly things went as they should. I called into the audio lines using Skype. Skype sometimes breaks up a bit, and it did during this conference, but no more than usual with concalls on Skype.
The biggest difficulty people had with the sessions was that the same numbers and entry codes were used repeatedly. If you logged on or called in a minute or two early, you got the tail end of a previous session instead of the beginning of the session you were attending. This meant logging out, waiting a bit, then coming back in.