In honor of Women's History Month 2018, the women of ExtraHop are sharing their experiences in and around the tech industry. Read the full series for stories of community, trials and tribulations, hopes and dreams, advice, and more!
I used to feel that women's focused career events weren't for me. I didn't want to be called out as a woman at work, so these events seemed the opposite of that and were as if I needed special treatment. All of that changed when I finally attended a fantastic development retreat for women and had my "aha" moment. I was so focused on trying to blend in that I was missing the point that women ARE different and we need to recognize and embrace those differences, build community, and help each other out. Trying to succeed on merit alone discounts the fact that a lot of success depends on being in the right place at the right time. Building a network of mentors, advocates, and connections helps significantly with getting the right opportunities and being ready for them when the time comes. Women's forums are a great place to start.
Another thing I've seen over the years is that when the opportunity presents itself, a number of women opt out because they don't feel ready or they have a perception that the new job comes with additional responsibilities that will interfere with personal time. I'm all for someone passing on something that isn't a good fit; however, more often than not, those jobs require working differently, not longer hours. I would also say that balancing work with personal is a learned skill. On average, I've worked the same number of hours at all levels in my career, and the only all-nighters I've pulled (at work, not college!) were when I was an individual contributor. I know CEOs who do a better job at prioritizing and managing their time than me, so please don't miss out on a career building opportunity because you think you can't.
Along those lines, my mom is taking on a management role for the first time in her career. She is understandably a bit nervous about taking the reins but she knows her stuff and can draw on her wealth of experience as a foundation for the new challenge. I've told her that if she has confidence in herself, others will have confidence in her. That advice was reinforced in my mind when I worked with someone that was easily flustered. She was great at her job but would sometimes panic when things didn't go as planned. She always handled it deftly in the end, but her coworkers were left with the impression that the job was a bit over her head. My takeaway from that experience was that the way you handle yourself is important. No one expects you to know everything and freaking out is sometimes warranted...just don't do it when you've got it handled and don't want people to think otherwise.
Finally, another turning point for me at that women's event a few years ago was the realization that I have a role in the success of other women. The women's focused events aren't just about me and my success. They are an opportunity for me to build a network for helping others. They are a reminder that there are many women are coming up the ladder after me and they need a hand up. We are not on alone in our experience and I need to be the resource that others have been for me. That change in perspective was impactful and helped me own my role in our collective success. I hope that is a challenge that all people can accept.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.extrahop.com/company/blog/2018/women-of-extrahop-anna-mowry/