Women in Technology

International Women’s Day Conference 2020 Recap

Climbing the Ladder to get the Bananas

International Women’s Day Conference 2020 Recap: Climbing the Ladder to get the Bananas

"The International Women's Day Conference made me feel ten feet tall and gave me a new vision of what my career can be." This quote shares how Jeanine Amadodji, a SoftwareONE employee and conference attendee, expressed her feelings about last Thursday's International Women's Day Conference, hosted by the WiT Network. Throughout the day, over 20 speakers bravely and boldly shared their stories, career journeys, and expertise to hundreds of attendees, both physically and virtually.

Topics ranged from gender equity vs. gender equality, the power of sisterhood, to the importance of being brave, not perfect. One of the biggest takeaways from the day was the importance of being an ally and how doing so can uplift and support others in good times and in times of struggle. Multiple speakers discussed allies that helped them in their careers when they felt depleted, exhausted, overwhelmed, and more.

By the end of the day, there was an overwhelming feeling of inspiration in the air. The International Women's Day conference was not just another event, but rather a day of learning, sharing, and growing. Instead of leaving with a bag full of company swag, attendees left with full hearts and empowered mindsets ready to take their fresh insights and put them into practice.

How to Stop Surviving and Start Thriving

Rundown. Worried. Confused. Sad. Chaotic. Insecure. Sickly. Preoccupied. Angry. Surviving. Alone. 

These are just a handful of the words Julie Lafleur used in her session on mentoring circles and how to survive and prevent burnout. Burnout is "the physical and/or mental collapse caused by overwork, stress, and disproportionate amount of demand vs. resources."

At the beginning of her session, Julie stated, "I felt like I was running on a treadmill, but I was getting nowhere." This metaphor described the happiness Julie showed on the outside, but how unfulfilled she felt on the inside. As the event coordinator, it was surprising, yet encouraging to hear such a poised, upbeat woman talk about such painful struggles.
Because Julie was willing to speak up, step up, and stand up to share her journey, others now had an example of what many women around the world are going through and how they can cope with and prevent burnout. One mechanism Julie shared to help other women go from surviving to thriving was WIT Wellness Mentoring Circles, a form of group mentoring that encourages participants from all levels of an organization to propose and own a topic of interest. The circles can be done anywhere and typically have one leader to guide the group. At the conference, attendees practiced these circles.

Julie also put a significant emphasis on taking care of your body, mind, and soul to help survive burnout. She provided many ways to get back to the basics and start mending.


Stepping out from Behind Your Own Shadow

Hadassa Lutz, a Technical Services Solution Lead at SoftwareONE, spoke at Thursday's conference on the paralyzing self- doubt that women are experiencing daily. She explained that many women believe that they are intellectual frauds who are just waiting to be found out by their peers. Hadassa also shared that this belief can lead to anxiety, burnout, and increased unhappiness, regardless of your status. 

With over 15 years of technology experience, Hadassa obtains extensive leadership and management expertise in business development and marketing. Her presence in the corporate community consists of excellence in service delivery and longstanding client relationships. Yet even with her impressive credentials, Hadassa has, at times, struggled to step out from behind her own shadow and beat imposter syndrome.

In her session, Hadassa shared her fear of sharing a very personal experience with her co-workers and manager and how that affected her personal and professional life. She worried that, if found out, her accomplishments and seniority may not carry as much weight. What Hadassa eventually learned after sharing her experience was that she was accepted and celebrated by those around her. At that point, Hadassa stepped out from behind her shadow, stopped feeling like an imposter, and embraced and celebrated both her accomplishments and personal experiences.

It's Time to Get the Bananas

Attending the conference and having the opportunity to network and converse with hundreds of other women with one common goal was energizing. One of our attendees, Heather Dahmer, captured the importance of this gathering, stating, "By coming together as a community and having these empowerment conferences, and with SoftwareONE sponsoring and attending the event, we can make progress."

The last speaker of the day, 17-year-old Ananya Chadha, left attendees with her explanation of "The 5 Monkeys Experiment." In the experiment, five monkeys had the opportunity to climb a ladder to get to the gold, a bunch of bananas. However, due to interference and learned behavior, the monkeys eventually stop trying to climb the ladder. The metaphor is referring to real life in the workplace and how, over time, employees can experience suppressed innovation and learned helplessness. Ananya encouraged the crowd to break that learned behavior and to live their big dreams, not to fear the ladder, and to help others climb it.

  • Life at SoftwareONE

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