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.
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!
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.
Founders are struggling to pitch their startups effectively and secure funding.
What you can do:
Many participants expressed a desire for a more robust, supportive community and meaningful mentorship opportunities, rather than purely transactional relationships.
What you can do:
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.
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.
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.
The discussion provided actionable advice for organizations seeking to improve diversity.
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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