A New Partnership is Formed

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Over the past few years Lori Gowin and myself have struggled as a national board to continue to provide more resources for our groups. There are so many things we want to provide that our volunteer capacity has been maxed out.
In order to help provide more resources, networking opportunities and support we have decided to partner with ITUnity to create a Women in Technology community space. We will maintain our separate WSP identity in addition to the broader technology focus on the ITUnity site.
With the new resources comes additional support from Heather Newman.
Our plan is to offer webinars, articles, mentor ship opportunities, forums and even more through the ITUnity platform. We are launching today with our first batch of articles on the unity site.
We will cross post major announcements and events as well as continue to offer support for local groups through both locations.
by Cathy Dew at 1:16 PM in Information, Official News

How do you put your best foot forward?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Lately there have been a few interesting articles in the news about Women in Technology.  In seeing these I am reminded of the importance of having groups and gatherings where these items can be discussed. 
In the month of September alone I will participate in facilitating three of these roundtable/panel discussions at 3 major SharePoint Events.  SharePointalooza, IT/DevConnections and SPTechCon in Boston.

SharePointalooza: Friday 9/12 from 2:00 -3:15
IT/DevConnections: Wednesday 9/17 from 4:15 - 6:00
SPTechCon: Thursday 9/18 from 12:00 - 1:00
However there was one article in particular that stood out to me and made me want to blog about it and get your feedback on the subject.
A lingerie company called Dear Kate is launching a new line named after Ada Lovelace, the woman who is credited with creating the first algorithm in the 1800s. While it is exciting to see a Woman in Technology becoming a part of pop culture it is the ad campaign for this new line that is causing controversy.
The campaign features real women of IT in their underwear in workplace settings. While I applaud them for using real women of all shapes, colors and sizes who are actually working in the IT field and not just models, I am concerned about the sexualization of women in IT even further.
This particular advertising makes sense to me in many ways and I applaud the creative team who came up with it (especially as I was once a part of a creative team responsible for developing concepts just like this and know how hard it is). However now that I'm on the other side of the fence, no longer in my advertising shoes, but in my Women in IT shoes… I know that this is a double edged sword.
So that is my question to you all…is it okay to make women in technology a sex symbol or does this simply perpetuate the  thought that it is okay to treat women as sex objects first before you respect us for our brains, skills or morals.
For myself personally I see this as a false positive.  Kudos to them for using real women in technology, but boo for encouraging the idea that it is okay to picture women in the workplace (any workplace) in their underwear.  I for one dress in heels most days, you will rarely find me without a great pair of heels on. But I wear these for myself, not to make myself a sex symbol.  I strive to always make sure that I am dressed appropriately for the workplace. It is simply too easy for some people to focus on the fact that I am female instead of the fact that I am a peer doing the same work that they do.
by Cathy Dew at 12:01 PM in Opinions, Events

How Do We Get Women to Apply for Technical Positions?

Thursday, March 20, 2014
The question was recently posted to Women in SharePoint: How do you get college ladies to apply for internships? The question was posed because there was an opening and there were no female applicants to the position. None, zip, zilch, zero, nada… you get the picture. This is an increasingly common question. We know that there are women out there who are excellent SharePoint IT Pros, Developers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Designers, and dare I say, Architects. These women make up some of the best and brightest in the field, so how come we can't seem to attract any of them to positions?

"Are you looking where women are?" was my first reaction to this question. And I have to admit, I wasn't sure that was the best reaction, but it made me stop and think. How do you recruit women, whether for an internship, an entry level technology position, or even higher in technical teams? As a woman, I know that I have had to adapt and set my career focus on what I want and go pursue those positions I want regardless of whether the company that had the position was using any techniques to recruit women. However, women who are just getting started in their careers may not have the network or knowledge of where to go to seek out these positions, or even what positions they may want to seek out and put them on a specific career path. So I did a little research and came up with some great suggestions to help companies reach out to women to apply for positions (at any level) within their organizations.

Make the job descriptions more neutral. Terms like "guru, ninja, wizard" shouldn't be included in job descriptions or advertisements while these may be an attempt to make the position sound appealing to younger generations, these terms do not have the same appeal across all genders, races, and cultures. Other terms that typically describe masculine behavior and management style are also things that may turn women off in looking at the position. Consider the words you use, make sure that you are presenting the position in an appealing manner to all people.
Recruit where women are. Internships, especially, are going to be a challenge. The number of women in colleges who are majoring in technical fields is, sadly, still small. You will need to ensure that you are very specific about recruiting them. Consider colleges for women as much as co-ed colleges. Also, enlist the professors and the contacts at the colleges and universities to encourage women applicants. Look for job fairs for women and advertise there. Tell your recruiters that you specifically want to ensure women are applying, don't dumb it down for them, but seek out those talented women. Don't forget there's a lot of sites out there that will post your position and cater to a specific audience or help you find people who might be interested; women's sites like this one that may have a discussion board or have links to job sites.

Use the current women in your organization. Encourage the women who are in positions to find others and bring them in, use their networks. Incentivize it, and incentives don't have to be financial.

Stress the benefits. Every conference and women's event I've been to there has been the question of "Work-Life Balance" for women. Women want the career, we want the family, we want it all. Stressing the benefits of the position helps us to know what piece we may or may not be sacrificing or building with that position. I've honestly taken a position that wasn't a raise financially but the benefits were what I needed at the time for my level of work-life balance. Remember this isn't always just about having children and family, it could be that there is a strong desire for travel, but make sure you spell all of these things out.

Show that you are open to having them apply. This one doesn't take much unless you're starting from ground zero. One of the first things many of us do when considering where we want to work is search for them on the internet. Show and highlight the diversity of your organization if it already exists. Even if you don't have a diverse group but want one, you can do this. Find a project or something that you have worked on with women (and this doesn't just apply to women, but all kinds of diverse people) and get permission to use the pictures or a press release on your site.

Mentoring programs do work. If you have women in your organization that are mentoring and helping others they are a great source for that. Sponsoring a mentorship program ensures that you have a pool of talent already at your fingertips, familiar with your organization, and who are going to be ready to enter your workforce soon. Consider the Hacker School grants done by Etsy in order to specifically recruit women into engineering roles. They used this opportunity not only to recruit women, but to train them and teach them so they were ready when it became time to hire, and they dramatically increased their diversity within the engineering arena.

These are just some of the first suggestions that popped into my head, and then I did a little research and found that this is also suggested by experts as well. I'd like to leave you with the following references to help with these ideas and more. Remember, this is just to get them to apply, once you get to interviewing and retaining your top talent, there is even more to consider.

How to Get More Women Hired for Technical Roles
How to Recruit Women for Your Workforce
Making your IT Department More Attractive to Women
Six (More) Ways to Recruit Women
How to Recruit and Retain Women in Tech Workplaces
by Lori Gowin at 1:26 PM in Ideas, Opinions

SPC Recap

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Wow!  That is all I can find the words to say.  What a fantastic event the SharePoint Conference 2014 was.  I am truly humbled by all the support that the Women in SharePoint group has gotten and hope that we can continue to embrace the enthusiasm that has been shown to us this past week.
We started the week off on Sunday night with a great meet up of SharePoint women on the Exhibit Hall floor to do some early on networking.  I hear that many of these ladies made use of this initial contact to find friends to eat breakfast with and attend sessions with throughout the week.
Next up for us was the epic Women in SharePoint luncheon. I have no words to express how honored we all were to participate in this event as your panel. And the number of ladies that showed up to the lunch far exceeded the expectations of the Microsoft SharePoint Conference organizers. (again we apologize to any unable to attend due to space limitations) We only see this lunch growing and becoming even better in the future.
It is always a delicate balance for me in organizing the lunches as we never have enough time to get to everyone's questions or to go super in depth with all the panel members. I hope one day we see a whole keynote length session for our group at events.
The yammer network on MySPC14 has been fantastic and we are planning ways to continue this with our own Women in SharePoint Yammer network within the next weeks.  Keep an eye out for the announcement on that front.
We also recorded a couple great Women in SharePoint highlighting SPCTV/Channel 9 sessions. We will post links to those once they have been posted to Channel 9.

Also we held a fantastic Panel Lunch at SPC.

On this panel were:
Cathy Dew - (Moderator) SharePoint MVP @catpaint1
Jennifer Mason - SharePoint MVP @jennifermason
Julia White - Office Division Product Management at Microsoft @julwhite
Laura Rogers - SharePoint MVP @wonderlaura
Lori Gowin - Microsoft PFE @lorigowin
Naomi Moneypenny - CTO @nmoneypenny
by Cathy Dew at 12:06 PM in Events, Official News

A Little History and Looking Forward

Sunday, March 2, 2014
Wow, it is amazing that we are launching a new version of the Women in SharePoint website already on the SharePoint 2013 platform.  It seems like just yesterday that the thought came up to form this group and we started down the road to provide a network for women to engage and network together.  In truth it was several years ago, 4 to be precise. That small idea has become a popular group that has continued to grow beyond our wildest expectations.
Women in SharePoint is a labor of love run by women for women. It is that extra bit of time each day that we can use to help others, and that is what makes it so rewarding.  As one of the founding board members of the group I am amazed at all the growth and being included in this year's official Microsoft SharePoint Conference just goes beyond my wildest dreams for where we would be in such a short period of time.
I am truly honored to bring my passion for this topic to groups of women. As much as I like to think that today's society has moved past the double standards of yesteryear it is simply not 100% true. Women in SharePoint continue to face obstacles in growing their careers. Having a group like Women in SharePoint where you can be open and ask for advice is one of the best ways that some women get to learn about different methods and opinions for dealing with tricky situations.
As we were preparing for the SharePoint Conference we came across a couple of great articles that help explain just a few motivations and challenges.


Where Women Find the Value of ‘LeaningIn’
Why Women Still Can’t Have It All 
Look for me at the conference and come say hi. I'd love to share my stories with you if you need or want to understand why this group is so important to me.
Also make sure you join us for the meetup in the Welcome Reception at 7pm in the Expo Hall and at the luncheon on Wednesday. We will also be participating in the SPCTV recordings on Wednesday morning.
by Cathy Dew at 1:34 PM in Events, Official News, Information

Our full blog stories and articles are hosted on the Women In Technology on IT Unity website. Check out the introductions to them below and use the links to read the full articles on the IT Unity site.

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Standing Strong with One Another

by Cathy Dew

More and more over the past years, we are starting to see the trend of feminism becoming more of a mainstream topic of conversation. And while it is encouraging to see these topics taking a mainstream news media over at times, the struggles that many women face every day still exist. There is still gender bias and a wage gap in our field. 

We have seen celebrities join the movement and proudly proclaim to be a feminist. However, we still continue to see the number of females entering into STEM careers and college degree programs declining. Many people know that my reasons for working with this movement are deeply personal as over the years I have experienced a lot of issues with working in a male-dominated field of technology.