International Women’s Day reminds us of the importance of women in our professional communities and workplaces. In IT, women comprise a small percentage of the workforce, and many women struggle with displaying the confidence and assertiveness of their male counterparts. Instead, strong-willed viewpoints like this are needed:
“Being uncomfortable is one of my new themes. Taking the step to try something new is out of my comfort zone, but if doesn’t work, the worst result is a great learning experience. If you aren’t a little uncomfortable with what is going on around you, whether personal or professional, you aren’t growing as an individual.” — Rene Reighard, Citrix Technology Advocate 2019
Part of the Citrix User Group Community, the Women in Technology (WiT) mentorship program fosters 1:1 mentor/mentee communications. Nearly four years ago, three female CTPs — Esther Barthel, Theresa Miller, and I — brainstormed how we could help women. We knew that many women had the equivalent technical prowess as their male counterparts, but they weren’t front and center in the workplace.
We decided that we would help women, one at a time, through a mentorship program. We solicited mentees through CUGC and started having enlightening and encouraging conversations. The program has slowly expanded and is now in its third year.
The Worst They Can Do Is Say, “No”
Unfortunately, women often don’t ask for new opportunities because their confidence level is low. Want to be assigned to that high-profile project? Want to stop being assigned as the secretary in meetings? Want to attend a training class? Want something to change about your work environment? Unless women make a direct request, chances are slim to none that anything will change.
This year, the two newly-minted female CTAs, Jenny Sheerin and Rene Reighard, are my present and former mentees, respectively. In our mentoring sessions, “the worst they can do is say ‘no,’” has been a recurring theme of discussion. Both ladies took it upon themselves to apply for CTA — and the response from Citrix was yes! Now, Jane Cassell has two female CTA colleagues.
Rene and Jenny have developed a confidence level that is only surpassed by their work ethic. Rene has taken on new perspectives that have yielded new career achievements:
“WiT has given me the guidance and encouragement to continue to question and challenge myself to try several new things. Why not go for it? Making a job change and applying for the CTA are some of the items where I asked myself ‘Why not? I have nothing to lose.’ Once I started these two new adventures, I found they were relatively easy to accomplish, and I had more to lose if I had never started them at all.”
Jenny has also reached some new heights:
“I was the type of person that shied away from conflict and undervalued my talents. That strategy didn’t work as well for me in the past, but now with the help of other Women in Technology, I have learned to speak up and to own my power. It’s a new perspective: I am going to keep trying and reach for the sky; it is far worse not to try!”
Say, “Yes, I Can!”
So, ladies, what’s stopping you from achieving more? On International Women’s Day, take inventory of yourself and be sure that you are not hindering your own success.