Takeaways from the Girls Who Code Panel
Women in technology is a common story in the news—specifically, the lack of them in technical and leadership roles. There are anecdotes about subtle biases, statistics about the pay gap, and dismal numbers on women in key positions.
One organization going to the root to improve this reality for future generations is Girls Who Code. This phenomenal organization is focused on inspiring, educating, and equipping girls with the skills needed to pursue computer science careers.
Earlier this February, a New York high school Girls Who Code club organized a field trip to learn about different trends in the industry, from virtual reality to social media, and learn more about where a background in technology could take them.
The day culminated with a panel of five women working in the technology space, with varied backgrounds and roles:
- Kathleen Kayse, VP Sales Strategy and Solutions, Yahoo
- Molly Sugarman, VP and Managing Director, Horizon Media
- Erika Nardini, President and CRO, BKSTG
- Cassie Wallace, Senior Product Manager at Prolific Interactive
- Eileen Benwitt, EVP and Chief Talent Officer at Horizon Media
Having the opportunity to meet and speak with these accomplished women was as inspiring for me as I hope it was for the girls in the audience. As each of us discussed our very different backgrounds, how we came to our current positions, and our advice for the group, strong common threads came up between our experiences: learn as much as possible, stay balanced, and most importantly, just go for it.
Learn as much as possible
The biggest takeaway was to learn as much as you can and don’t stop. Each time you try something new, whether a coding framework or even an entirely new job, you gain knowledge, grow your skillset, and gather real information on what you like and what you don’t.
Instead of expecting to stumble upon a “passion,” explore many subjects and opportunities. With each experience, you get closer to what lights you up and where you will truly excel. And with this learning and experience comes confidence, which is reflected in every area of your professional life.
At the end of the panel, the floor was open for question and answer. Inevitably, the question of work-life balance came up.
Whether it’s family, a hobby, or simply carving out time to rest, the time away from your job is what recharges you and enables you to bring your best self to the table in your work. For the women on the panel, this means setting and maintaining boundaries and just focusing on making progress, knowing that every day won’t be perfect (no matter what stage you are at in life).
Go for it
Clearly, the girls in the room already have focus and dedication, as demonstrated by their involvement in the club. Each panelist couldn’t help but give the simplest advice: go for it. And if you fail…go for it again!