In honor of Women’s History Month, I sat down (virtually) with a diverse panel of women from across Sisense in an open interview format. We dug into their unique challenges and successes to learn what inspires them as they blaze their trails in the tech world. From juggling work and life responsibilities and raising children to lifting up the voices of other marginalized individuals, these intrepid Sisensers do it all and are helping build a tech powerhouse at the same time!
It will take a lot of work to continue building a more equitable world and to forge the way for the next generation of women in tech; hopefully after hearing from these Sisensers, you’ll understand a bit about how far we’ve come and reaffirm your commitment to helping build a better future.
Women inspiring women
CNBC reported that in 2021, women’s workforce participation (the portion of the population actively searching for work) hit a 33-year low — just 57%. After decades of positive trends of women in the workforce, the global pandemic has forced women out of the workplace like never before. Women — far more often than men — find themselves having to stay home with their families due to school closures and lack of childcare options.
But at Sisense and many other high-tech companies, women are still a powerful part of the team.
“I’m in constant awe of working mothers who balance their home responsibilities with their day jobs,” said Melanie Tantingco, VP, Talent Acquisition.
As the number of women in the workforce is being forcibly reduced by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to support the women on our teams. Being able to balance life and work is critical to keeping women in the workforce. But it does require some give and take from our teammates and the companies themselves. It can be done, but even under the best conditions, it’s not easy.
“Something that I love about working in tech is that I have always had the ability to work from home or even work in a hybrid model,” said Elise Woodard, Social Media Manager. “Since COVID hit in 2020, I’ve been home and working remotely with my four kids. Even though it’s incredibly difficult some days, I feel good setting the example for my kids that women can have powerful careers. This is especially important for me to show my daughter.”
Helping young girls find pathways into tech is so important. While some girls have mothers or other family members as examples, others are inspired by women who run organizations that encourage girls to explore STEM activities.
“I am inspired by Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls who Code,” said Susanna Tharakan, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager. “She’s a woman of color, like me, who paved her own path to success while bringing up other women alongside her. Her TEDx talk called ‘Teach Girls Bravery not Perfection’ was both inspiring and validating.”
No one gets anywhere in life alone; we all need help. Since women understand the unique challenges that we go through in the workforce, it’s especially important that we support each other, whenever and however we can! In this spirit, one question we asked our panel was, “Who are some women who have helped you in your career?”
“My honest answer is my mom,” said Cody Young, Talent Acquisition Partner. “Although she doesn’t work in tech, she has had a successful career and has always been there to provide me with authentic guidance and has embodied what it means to balance career, home, and passion in the workplace. Growing up with a strong example of what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace without compromising her own values has helped me to lead with confidence without having to compromise my own values.”
The tech world can be challenging, but startups and even bigger companies like Sisense can offer women unique opportunities to support each other and help women grow and succeed.
“While working for my first startup, [a leader named] Osha Kondori advised me to negotiate a promotion that I clearly wanted but didn’t feel qualified to ask for,” said Mirijam Stewart, Customer Success Manager. “She knew my worth before I did. Then, she referred me to Periscope Data [which merged with Sisense]. In the past year I’ve been able to join her team during COVID-19 and tackle difficult conversations.”
Paving the way for the next generation of women in tech
When women succeed, we all succeed. Our society and our planet have a long way to go to create equality for women and young girls. Women who have already made inroads in the tech world can help those just starting their careers or who are still learning the skills they’ll need to succeed. Many people ask themselves, “How can I help the next generation of young women succeed in the tech world and beyond?” Our panel offers this guidance:
“Get involved with nonprofits or resource groups in underrepresented communities,” said Shannon Woodward, Account Development Representative. “Take an intersectional approach to involving yourself.”
“Do well yourself and talk about it,” said Shruthi Panicker, Senior Technical Product Marketing Manager. “Become friends with others and be part of the community.”
All children need support and encouragement, but especially girls who are interested in male-dominated worlds like tech, the sciences, and math.
“Celebrate when girls explore their interests in STEM programs,” Melanie offered. “Gift them with non-gendered or science-based toys. Encourage them to take tech internships or seek out women mentors early in their career.”
“It’s important to talk to girls about technology at a young age,” Elise said. “I think we’ve made strides in the last generation, and I already see so many opportunities for my daughter in this field. We need to continue to foster an environment that encourages girls to thrive in tech.”
Celebrating Women’s History Month
Although I think we can all agree that women’s history should be celebrated beyond just one month of the year, it’s amazing to have a month dedicated to increasing awareness of women’s issues in society and celebrating the trailblazers who paved the way for women to get where we are today.
“It’s a time to be thankful for the women who have broken barriers that have allowed us to be in the rooms we are now,” said Cody.
“For me, Women’s History Month means celebrating how far we’ve come while recognizing the women in our lives who have helped us get to where we are today,” said Susanna. “Women supporting women. Women recognizing women. Shining a spotlight on those who have been overshadowed, talked over, and just not given the same attention as our male counterparts.”
Envisioning a better future for women in tech
There’s no telling what tomorrow will bring or what the future of tech will look like; however, we can all play a role in creating more opportunities for diverse communities and people who have historically been barred from progress or leadership.
“Elevate more women who do not look like you,” said Mirijam. “Seek them out. Ask them about their perspective. Don’t ask for similar experience; ask for their story and look at what they’ve achieved.”
The past is not one story; nor is the future. It will be woven by the countless individuals who go out, every day, and try to make the world a better place, helping support each other — people with different backgrounds, outlooks, dreams, and goals.
“I believe organizations need to do more in order to recruit and retain women in the tech industry,” said Mimi Mbaye, People Partner. “We need to support diversity, equity, and inclusion so more women can enter the space.”
Julia Casey is a Talent Acquisition Partner at Sisense. She has almost 3 years of experience in the tech industry recruiting top talent, creating a quality candidate experience, refining Sisense’s employer branding, and co-leading the in-house women’s Employee Resource Group, Zenith.