November at Austin Women in Technology: A Month of Impactful Engagements

Mon, November 13, 2023 12:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

November was a busy month for Austin and all of us at Austin Women in Technology. We embarked on a week filled with collaboration, celebration, and meaningful exchanges.

Giving Thanks at Girlsgiving

The month started with our impactful Girlsgiving fundraiser at Industry Eastside, organized by AWT’s Sponsorship Director, Erin Connell, and her chairs, Hailey Cohan and Micala Osuna. The event was not just a fundraiser; it was a testament to the positive influence AWT has had on the lives of its members. The generous raffle contributions from partners like Julie Ahmad, Salon Sway, Blenders, Kendra Scott, and more, coupled with the delightful food and ambiance provided by Industry, made the event truly special.

We are excited as we look to 2024 to continue supporting our members and outreach partners, which include Code2Collge, Girls Empowerment Network, Dress for Success, and Girlstart. Our heartfelt thanks go to our members, sponsors, volunteers, and community partners whose unwavering support makes serving our members and the Austin community possible. Thank you!

Becoming a ConnectHER at Austin Startup Week

The momentum continued with our engaging participation in the Women In Tech track at Austin Startup Week. Our workshop, “Becoming a ConnectHER,” led by Community Partnerships Director, Emily Gupton, was a resounding success. During the workshop, 35 Community Leaders paired up with 35 participants for seven-minute sessions of “speed networking”, where participants had the opportunity to tap into the experience and expertise of the Community Leaders with which they were paired. AWT has its deepest gratitude for the 35 fantastic Community Leaders who willingly gave their time to support the participants and help them along their professional journey.

Takeaways from the conversations with our Community Leaders are summarized below, which further demonstrate the importance of organizations like Austin Women in Technology, FIESTA, Austin Forum on Technology & Society, KS WELI, DivInc, and so many others that provide networking, support, resources, and more to underserved populations.

Startup Challenges and Fundraising Difficulty

Founders are struggling to pitch their startups effectively and secure funding. 

What you can do: 

  • Find targeted workshops or mentorship programs focusing on refining pitches and developing successful fundraising strategies.
  • Enhance communication skills, particularly in pitching and presenting ideas.
  • If you’re in Austin, attend a FIESTA at Capital Factory and apply to pitch to venture capital firms.
  • Find a founder and/or funder community, like FIESTA, DivInc, and so many more to build community and find reliable resources.

Lack of Community and Non-Transactional Relationships

Many participants expressed a desire for a more robust, supportive community and meaningful mentorship opportunities, rather than purely transactional relationships.

What you can do:

  • Find community! Join an organization like Ausitn Women in Technology, Austin Technology Council, the Austin Forum on Technology and Society, or so many others, to build true relationships.
  • Network before you need it! Don’t wait until you are job hunting or need help landing a big client to get out and meet people. Building meaningful relationships takes time. Start now, even if it’s slow and steady.
  • Ask for help. Be willing to return the favor. Women struggle with asking for help. If you need it, ask! We are in the same boat together, and more than likely, you will find someone in your community who has faced similar struggles, challenges, and questions. Offer your support, services, or insights when asked. Supporting one another is a two-way street if you want meaningful relationships and community.

Diversifying Hiring Practices – Takeaways at the CEO Summit

At the Austin Technology Council’s CEO Summit, AWT's president elect, Nicole Pletka, led a panel that delved into the crucial topic of diversity in the workplace, discussing how a mix of cultural, ethnic, and gender perspectives significantly enhances creativity and problem-solving. This conversation was a significant step in understanding and implementing practices that promote diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry.

Diversity's Impact on Innovation

The panelists underscored the immense value of diversity in fostering idea generation and creativity. They backed this with academic research and their personal experiences, illustrating how varied groups approach problem-solving in uniquely effective ways.

Addressing the "Broken Rung"

A significant issue highlighted was the disparity in promotion rates for women in technology, particularly at the first step from entry-level to manager, often termed the "broken rung”. Data from McKinsey and Company revealed that for every 100 men promoted at this stage, only 87 women advanced, with even fewer people of color progressing.

Practical Strategies for Building a Diverse Workforce

The discussion provided actionable advice for organizations seeking to improve diversity.

  • Partnering with community organizations like Austin Women in Technology, Capital Area Workforce Solutions, AUTMHQ, and KS WELI to discover diverse candidates.
  • Employing anti-bias tools to create gender-neutral job descriptions.
  • Using DEI-trained staff or consultants to ensure job postings are inclusive.

Retaining and Promoting Diverse Talent

Advice extended to retaining and advancing current employees. Understanding and addressing micro-aggressions that can drive staff away is crucial. Panelists suggested leveraging Employee Resource Groups and community groups to empower staff, emphasizing the importance of listening to their experiences and implementing their feedback.

In closing, the experiences and insights gained throughout November have been invaluable. They have not only reinforced our commitment to supporting and empowering women in technology but have also highlighted the power of community and collaboration in driving positive change. Stay tuned for upcoming AWT and community partner events as we round out 2023 and move into 2024.

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