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Words of Wisdom from 3 Women in Communications: Page 2 of 2
4. Take the Personal Out of It
Advanced in her career and as senior as she is, Erin acknowledged that speaking up during meetings may be easier for her than it is for younger women or those who aren’t culturally used to challenging men. But she had some suggestions for how to get over this fear – “Channel your inner man,” she said. “When trying to be a woman speaking up in a man’s world, use them, emulate them -- it works.”
And don’t be shy about voicing when you don’t agree with something. “Say, ‘I don’t agree with that.’ It doesn’t have to be personal, it is simply business. Take that personal piece out of it.”
A catchphrase Jeanne said she’s learning to use more and more is: “I humbly disagree.” But while Jeanne said she feels safe saying so, she acknowledged that that’s not always the case. You just have to have confidence in yourself, she said.
And when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation -- like at a tech industry tradeshow in Vegas, with women dancing in cages, as one attendee shared -- just laugh at it, Erin said. “I try to diffuse a situation that makes me uncomfortable and not become adversarial about it.”
5. If They Can’t See You, Stand Up
Early in her career, Gauri had been asked to pitch her ideas to a group of about 20 men in leadership positions. As the men took their seats at the table, Gauri wasn’t sure she should join them, so she ended up sitting off to the side. Her sponsor urged her to take her seat at the table, so she did. But Gauri is petite, and said she wasn’t really sure the men would be able to see her well enough.
“I was like, you know what, if they can’t see me, I’m going to stand up. So I did. I stood up and I went in front of the room and talked,” Gauri said. “There are a lot of times that we are just one single woman in a sea of 15, 20, or 30 men, and you have to make your voice heard. … And what you bring to the table is really important.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve, Erin added. “You know, just speaking up and taking the seat at the table, I have had to mentally coach myself that same way, especially if I’m in a role where I’m like covering for my boss, and I go into a meeting and I think, OK, I’m not really entitled to be here. But then I realize I am, and I need to sit at the table, I need to represent this role. And I can do this, even though it feels a bit intimidating because I might be the only woman in the room or the only one at the main table.”
6. Be a Change Agent
Participating in conferences like Enterprise Connect provides a good opportunity for women in IT to meet – and learn from one another. “This venue is how we meet each other,” as Jeanne noted. “So keep participating. And keep being you because that’s what’s going to make it work.”
Watch the video below to learn more about our women’s initiatives at Enterprise Connect: