Understanding and Empathy in the Age of Imposter Syndrome
Below is an article originally written by Hanna Abruzzo at PowerToFly Partner Symantec Corporation, and published on August 20, 2018. Go to Symantec's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
If you want to support women in the workplace, any workplace, start by believing in them.
On my 11th morning at Symantec, I walked into the lobby to see a dozen young women staring at me. I knew why they were there. After all, it was only five years ago that I was in high school myself, and I've seen my fair share of "Women in STEM" initiatives. As I walked to the elevators and scanned my badge, I figured they were probably staring because I am what they were there to see: a young woman in a field that has few. I realized that I am now exactly where I wanted to be five years ago, when I was them. But now I am me, and I feel the same as I did then. I feel unsure.
As a member of Symantec's Women Action Network Employee Resource Group (SWAN), I was invited to share my story with a group of Tech Trek attendees visiting campus. Programs like Tech Trek are a great way to introduce girls to STEM at a young age.
Tech Trek Tour of Symantec's Culver City Office
After the SWAN event that day, I received an email asking if I'd write an article for our corporate blog. I said yes. Today, I received the first issue of the blog in my email, and opened it to see if there was a certain style I should adopt in my piece. Of the eight stories in the issue, three are specifically about how to be more inclusive of women in a technical workplace.
That's not the article I want to write. I don't have anything new to contribute, and as someone who's still clicking through each of those employee training courses, I know this audience understands on some level why Symantec values diversity. I want to talk about a topic tangential to inclusivity. A corollary, if you will. If you want to support women in the workplace, in any workplace, allowing them in is a great start. In my opinion, the next step is believing in them.
Imposter syndrome doesn't just plague women, of course. Feel free to add "and men" to any of these sentences if you like. However, isolation is a catalyst for such a syndrome, and looking around in a sea of men is one way to feel pretty darn lonely.
At a young age, kids are even more impressionable to failure. Being a smart or talented girl can be especially hard. The high schoolers who visited us are no stranger to that. Your coworkers are no stranger to that. Having boys throw tantrums because you're better than them can teach you to feel bad for succeeding. You should make yourself small. Or, you should never ever fail, because how will it feel when they use your failure to feel better about themselves?
Either way there is pressure and doubt. I saw that same doubt when I talked to the Tech Trek students. They were here to visit, but they wanted to prove to me that they had earned it. I asked the circle I was sitting with to tell me what they did for fun. The first girl said, "I'm on the robotics team." "No, I mean, what do you actually do for fun, outside of school and robotics?" "…I knit." They liked to garden, play sports, watch anime, learn new instruments, dance, read, and draw. Honestly, I was surprised by the number of avid knitters in the group. And yes, they also like to play with robots. But they thought they had to be someone else for me, someone who was extraordinary at school and lived, breathed, and dreamed science and technology. Many of them were shy to admit they didn't want to be engineers. One wanted to be a doctor instead. Only a teenage girl would be embarrassed to admit she wants to be a doctor. That's the reality of imposter syndrome.
A particular interaction that stood out to me, although the entire day was fun and inspiring, was afterwards, when one of the students came up to me and asked me about my experience being bisexual. What was college like? We both knew she was really asking, "Will I have to hide?" The intricacies of navigating life as a gay person is a topic for another post, but the point still stands.
Every day, for different reasons, people you work with ask themselves, "Will I have to hide?" "Will I have to hide that I don't like Computer Science even though I'm taking a tour here today?" "Will I have to hide my opinion in these meetings because my teammates will think I'm stupid?" "Will I have to hide that my coworker talks down to me and it hurts my feelings?" "Will I have to hide that I want that big promotion so my peers won't think I'm trying to rock the boat?"
I believe that if you want to be an ally of any minority, then answer the questions they won't ask. If you want to be a friend, answer those questions. Tell them you believe in them. Tell them you admire their work. Show them it's okay to be uncertain by opening up when you need help. Ask them for their opinion. Empathize and seek to understand.
Working at Relativity—the global tech company that equips legal and compliance professionals with a powerful data-organizing and discovery platform—looked different in 2020. The highly collaborative environment of their Chicago headquarters transitioned to a virtual setting, and just like companies around the country, Relativity adapted their goals and major projects to a completely remote environment.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
A Conversation with Vouch's Lead Designer Carrie Phillips
Nina Unger, Talent Acquisition Specialist at SoftwareONE gave us a behind-the-scenes look at SoftwareONE's Application process, culture, and values.
Learn about the company and how you can make your application stand out!
To learn more about SoftwareONE and their open roles, click here.