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Background Story – Last year I attended a global conference in Warsaw with a few hundred International Coach Federation (ICF) leaders from across the world(140 countries to be specific). The trip was very significant for me on many levels including the opportunity to meet some very talented and passionate leaders in the coaching industry. Kelley Russell-Duvarney was one of them. Although our personal backgrounds had very little in common, we found ourselves in an extremely engaging conversation as we sat in the last row of a tour van for several hours during our group trip. We quickly appreciated the similarities in our thinking as we both had inquisitive and analytical minds. Six months after meeting in Poland, Kelley was visiting Seattle from Austin and we decided to meet for coffee. We talked for almost three hours and when we parted, our conversation still felt unfinished. That was a clear indication for us that we needed to act on this synergy. That’s how our project, “Women in Tech – Tap Into Your Own Greatness” was born!

What Makes This Different From Other Programs

Both Kelley and I coach tech professionals, supporting them in their career and leadership journey. We also have our firsthand experience of working for tech organizations. We decided to put together a research survey based on our experience of working with tech professionals and women and minorities. What we felt made our work different from other similar ones are:

  1. Related Background
  • We already had a pretty good pulse on this population as we have been working with such clients as coaches.
  • Kelly had focused on tech and gender in grad school and I had a long career as a software engineer and a manager.

2. Rich Network – We had access to vast and diverse groups of women in tech (resulting in 200 responses)

3. Commitment to Excellence and a Forward-looking perspective

  • Instead of focusing on the problems only, we thought about possible actionable solutions
  • We acted as a team, built on each other’s expertise, and ideas
  • We regularly questioned and challenged our assumptions

4. We thoroughly enjoyed the process, at times it almost felt like a “flow state”. It was a clear indication that we are up to something worthwhile.

The Survey and The Quality Of The Results

Our survey questions focused on these four main areas with five ranking choices for each.

  • Professional development goals
  • Organizational/Environmental factors
  • Skills related to effectiveness
  • Skills related to emotional capacities

The majority of our respondents were early and mid-career professionals (25-45 age-range), in the software development and management area of tech.

The results were quite eye-opening for us. We were glad that we didn’t operate under any specific assumptions about the possible results and that we worked to assure the questionnaire was not biased in any particular direction. In addition, we were happy to receive quite a few open-ended comments (25%). We believe, having now received nearly 200 responses for our optional questionnaire that women in tech are eager to engage with a positively framed professional development curriculum.

The top two Professional Development goals for 55% of respondents were increasing personal and professional fulfillment and finding a greater balance to do more of the things that matter most. These results align well with the top choices from each of the other three categories. For the section titled, Organizational/Environmental factors the top-ranked responses were additional support such as mentoring and increased job/career mobility. Although these choices might stand separately for some respondents, they may be viewed in support of the top two professional development goals above; increasing personal and professional fulfillment and finding greater balance.

The top two skills that respondents identified as most important to them were building professional relationships/networking and the ability to [better] negotiate organizational politics. The results certainly suggest,

Women are increasingly aware that the way to move ahead in the tech industry is not solely based on their technical prowess. These particular choices may represent a growing awareness that in order to increase mobility in tech women need to learn how to navigate the male-centered networks at work.

As if on cue, when we look at the results from the section labeled Emotional Intelligence, stress tolerance and managing negative self-talk were ranked highest. From our experiences with female clients in tech, this could be due to various factors including (but not limited to) unrealistic expectations that they hold for themselves in their professional and personal lives as well as feeling like outsiders in their place of work.

What’s Next

We have had a great experience from the webinars on the survey results we offered in March. Based on the demand we are offering the webinars again on April 3rd (evening) and April 4th(midday). As a subscriber of GreenLeafCoach, receive a 40% discount using the code SPECIAL40. Even if you can’t be present at this time you will receive a recording if you register.

We strongly believe that it’s a high time that as women we tap into our own greatness and redefine leadership. The two of us shifted the definition of the “last row seat” to a birthplace of a great collaboration. You never know what shift you are capable of making. Kelley and I can’t wait to see that happen. Join us!


As a subscriber of GreenLeafCoach, receive a 40% discount using the code SPECIAL40

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