An Inspiring Evening Celebrating Women in Technology

I attended my first PDX Women in Tech (PDXWIT) networking event located at the new moovel Group North America headquarters in Portland. The theme for this event was “Simple machines: using your tools to leverage your career” and the conversation starter was “What’s your favorite tech tool?”

For the next couple of hours, I enjoyed wonderful catering, quick presentations and interesting conversations with women and men in tech, not only about their favorite tech tool but also about what tech companies could do to forge more diverse and inclusive workforces.

The Spirit of Women’s History Month is Alive and Well:
Megan Bigelow, Co-Founder & President at PDXWIT, acknowledged Mildred Dresselhaus, the “Queen Of Carbon” and trailblazer who developed wider opportunities for women in science and engineering. Mildred was the first woman awarded the National Medal of Science in Engineering and to become a fully tenured professor at MIT.

Flexibility Matters for a Diverse Workforce:
Sadhana Shenoy, Chief Operating Officer at moovel Group North America, provided an introduction to moovel and recommended flexible work arrangements to enable women to better balance and achieve their professional and personal aspirations. She stated that encouraging more women to become leaders in the business world is a business imperative. Her advice for women working in tech include: be assertive, trust the value that you bring, ask for what you want and participate to encourage others to do so as well. At Reltio, we promote diversification through a flexible remote working culture that encourages employees to commute less and get more done.

Use Gender Neutral Words to Invite Inclusion:
Farrah Campbell, Customer & People Operations at Reflect Technologies, shared the challenges she faces with changing the tone of the company to invite inclusion. Masculine language in job advertisements and the workplace leads to less anticipated belongingness and job interest among women. Tech companies can best address this challenge by seeking gender neutral words that are less associated with stereotypical attributes.

Reltio Redwood Shores Conference Rooms

Reltio Redwood Shores Conference Rooms

Embrace Non-traditional Backgrounds:
Caito Scherr, Software Engineer at New Relic, gave a presentation about the tools and advice that helped her achieve her career goals and break into tech from a non-technical background. A Theatre and Dance major in college, she worked in hospital administration and pet health before returning to her childhood passion of becoming an inventor and engineer.

Caito gave me some examples of how New Relic has laid a strong foundation for inclusion and diversity: setting up a floor named after math, science and technology contributors of all ethnicities and genders, creating and improving career tracks for engineers with non-traditional backgrounds (like code schools) and arranging activities that are outside of “nerd tropes” to name a few. Here at Reltio, we also chose to name our conference rooms after famous female scientists to reinforce our commitment towards women in technology.

Tech Companies with Diverse and Inclusive Workforces do Exist:
Ashvin Sawhney, Senior Corporate Recruiter at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, was one of the many talent scouts looking to find qualified candidates that evening. HPE has a strong commitment to diversity recruiting, which is reflected in the strong representation of women in all areas of the business.

There was no shortage of people to talk to--I even ran into acquaintances that I met at non-related social gatherings. When I shared my experiences about joining Reltio--listed as one of Fortune’s top 30 best workplaces in technology, and a work culture that follows Jacob Morgan's philosophy about The Evolution of the Employee, I received responses such as “progressive” and “what could be better?” What could be better is if more people join us towards building a more diverse and inclusive company that we can all be proud of.