This week we observed International Women’s Day, and although women have come a long way in recent years, there’s still a long way to go. Even though women make up almost half of the workforce, they hold less than a quarter of senior positions globally. According to US Census Data, women earn on average 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by their male colleagues, and over $10,000 less in median earnings than men. When it comes to Fortune 500 companies, only 24 have women CEOs.
So while International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate our accomplishments, it’s also a time for action. To help pave the way for the next generation of female leaders, I convened my “Roundtable of Wise Women,” who have some ideas and tips for young women who want to succeed in tech.
Here are some of their thoughts, starting with my own:
Among the most important things women can do to succeed are – networking and working with a mentor. Networking is a great tool that can be used to support your career path, build a dynamic and growing career environment. The more people in your network, the more resources you can draw on, whether it’s to deal with work or personal challenges and dilemmas, or to enhance your work and position.
When it comes time to advance your career, there is no better tool than networking. According to a study by the Adler Group and LinkedIn, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. A network of successful women will help grow your self-confidence and enable you to draw on the experience of other women who have faced similar challenges.
In parallel to building your network, find yourself a great mentor. Done well, mentorship, whether formal or informal, results in growth for both parties – the mentee and the mentor. A good mentor can help you manage your challenges effectively, by either giving you advice or connecting you to the right support system. Research shows that female managers are the most inspirational individuals in an organization – showing just how powerful a mentoring relationship can be. As the age-old saying goes, “If your goal is to one day become a leader, then learn from a leader.”
Over my career, I have had the opportunity to add many talented women to my own network, and have learned an incredible amount from each of them. I asked each of them to share advice and wisdom from their own careers with women who are just setting out on their own professional journeys, which I am happy to share with you here:
Hadar Avtalion, Venture Capital Business Development at AWS: “Cultivate your network and invest in personal relationships throughout and across your organization and industry.”
Noa Wolfson, Susquehanna Growth Equity: “This is a quote I heard and thought is very impactful: “Bring your experience, not your playbook.” We often take the easy road and mimic versions of success from things that we did in other companies or from other teams. We need less copying and more creativeness and critical thinking.”
Sivan Shamri Dahan, Managing Partner at Qumra Capital: “Life is all about seizing opportunities. Every day presents ‘sliding door’ moments. The best career choices that I made were not planned, nor did they arrive at a convenient time – but when they came my way, I decided to seize them wholeheartedly. It takes courage to follow your instincts rather than taking the safe path. Eventually these were the main milestones in my career.”
Ofrit Chaskelevitch, VP Operations and Global Services at Bidalgo: “I love to dream! As a girl I grew up in Kenya and I love running so my slogan is, ‘In my dreams I am Kenyan.’ This slogan sums up my approach to life: Being able to overcome challenges with determination and sensitivity, both to myself and to those around me. The combination of the two produces a power that allows me to conquer peaks.”
Sharon Erde , Director of Marketing Communications at Pitango Venture Capital: “Surround yourself with strong, capable and inspiring women, to be your mentors, guardians and lighthouse. Life is a roller coaster, and it’s best spent with a group of women with whom to share the successes, the “ups” – and just as important, the challenges and the “downs,” women who know your true colors, who will always have your back, who tell you the truth directly to your face, and who want what’s best for you. Finding them may not be easy, but the journey will always take you places. And those things you want to do, but seem too crazy? Do them anyway!
Shuly Galili, Founding Partner, UpWest: “My main advice is to find work/life balance. Its “easier said than done” but at the end of the day it’s about the people you choose on your journey in both career and personal life that matter in making it a true balance. Build a supportive network of peers in your industry who will be a sounding board for you in making career choices. Mentor the next generation of women in your life. Find time to relish what matters for you outside your work: family, relationships, hobbies, fitness.”
I have been fortunate to work with incredibly talented women, who demonstrated on a daily basis what it means to lead with conviction and confidence, guiding me on a path towards success and accomplishment. I hope these insights can similarly help the next generation of female leaders as they set off on their own journeys.
Happy International Women’s Day!