Women in technology: an encouraging webinar about taking risks, setting priorities, and finding a work-life balance

February 27, 2018

By: Catalina Mas
On February 22nd, four Globant women led the webinar “Women that Build”, a session dedicated to discussing these women’s stories and challenges in the IT industry. The speakers were Carolina Dolan (Stay Relevant Partner @ Globant US), Stephanie Trunzo (Managing Director @Globant US), Shilpa Kadam (UX Studio Partner @Globant India), and Clemence Debaig (Consulting Director @ Globant London).
These women, all from different countries and backgrounds—Argentina, India, UK, and US—got together to share their inspiring, intriguing stories about how they built their career paths, how they managed to find a balance between their careers and their lives outside of work, and what their experiences of being women in a predominantly masculine industry were like, as well as other topics that concluded in a Q&A session.
Maybe they flipped a coin, or maybe they choose their careers because they were good at science and mathematics. They may have traveled different paths, but the four women had a single dream: to develop themselves and their careers in tech, where it’s “not only about coding or programming,” they remarked.
“People sometimes think Technology is just coding, just the hard aspect of it. Technology continues to be more and more each day… It has already come to our everyday lives. Our climate stats are embedded with technology, everything is embedded with technology. I think that for many people it might be a thing of stumbling upon, but once you discover the richness that the field has, it’s a great place to be,” says Carolina Dolan.
Clemence and Shilpa decided to pursue careers in technology after several breakthroughs changed the industry. Clemence expressed that she was inspired by her mom and grandmother, both of whom have PhDs in chemistry. “I was really good at science, really good at physics, and digital started to be a thing so I realised I had to get started on this,” she said.
Shilpa agreed. “It was so obvious to be not there when the dot com boom happened and my by-then boyfriend and now husband kind of pushed me, so yes I did start at that point, coding HTML in simple scripts in a notepad, and then kind of grew on from them,” she expressed. “You have to be able to connect the dots between problem solving, design, business units and technology enables these connections.” 
The discussion then moved on to the importance of mentors and networking in the field. “I think having sponsors and champions is a really important thing for anyone’s career,” Stephanie said, and described her experience in participating in a sort of a fast-track executive program in which junior employees benefited from mentorship and sponsorship. At one point during this program, she was the only woman sitting at a table surrounded by men, and the first thing she was told was that there was a really great group of women in technology that she should join. The men at the table, however, were being advised on their career paths in the industry. “Now that I’m looking back,” she concluded,  “it was a pretty good advice. Maybe it was not the same quality and characteristic, but what he gave me was a pretty ready-made network and those networks are really important,”said Stephanie.
Shilpa accorded: “As you grow up the ladder”, she said, “you start realising you need your network, you need your support and peers.”
The group also discussed the importance of a work-life balance. They all agreed that individual balance depends on priorities and on managing your time and energy so that you can save them for your other priorities.
Finally, the group reflected on how culturally embedded the belief that technology, engineering, and sciences are “guy things” has become. Dolan said that there were a lot of situations where women were not encouraged to study these things. Then, Stephanie added: “Exposure point is really important. If we aren’t exposing kids and girls to a wide variety of options that they can potentially study, they’ll never turn their minds over a career path.”
“Young girls are usually much better at science at school,” Clemence pointed out, “but they don’t feel this is a possibility for a career. Most of the time it does not look interesting.” Shilpa, however, said she never thought about it like that “even in India, where we are culturally a pretty male dominated [society]…I think that started with my mom.  She used to say: ‘Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do this just because you are a girl.’”
To close out the webinar, each woman shared encouraging messages with the attendees:
“If you can sustain and keep the same enthusiasm and energy, then you’ll do much better.” – Shilpa Kadam
“Trust your heart.”- Carolina Dolan
“If I went back I’d also tell myself to put less pressure to myself. What’s more important is to learn how to be flexible, adaptable. To trust myself and not listen to people’s expectations. Tell myself it’s not always gonna be pink and easy.” – Clemence Debaig
“If I could rewind time, I would probably say to change faster. We delay decisions sometimes that we probably know we should make because we are allowing peers to have a space in our minds. Find more trust in yourself and take a risk and change faster—time flies quicker than you would like it to.” – Stephanie Trunzo
You’ll be able to watch the entire webinar soon! Stay tuned.

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Diversity, equity and inclusion are key to our business. Technology requires us to innovate constantly, and we can only achieve this if we bring together different points of view. Some of the areas we are working on include focusing on improving gender equality in our industry, inclusive hiring practices, and helping people to achieve a work-life balance.