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I was recently honored to join the Women in Global Leadership event in Phoenix.  Hosted by Doug Bruhnke and Connie Kadansky for Global Chamber – Phoenix, the event featured a panel of speakers, fashion show, and tour of the amazing Bespoke Manufacturing Company with CEO Kirby Best.

Diana White facilitated the panel, where I was invited to join Alexandria Van Haren, Rangina Hamidi, Martha Medina, and Tracey Latham to speak on opportunities and obstacles women face in global leadership.  My part was to include a male perspective in the panel’s discussion.

Diana asked questions about mentorship and the panelists’ experiences with structured and unstructured mentorship in their careers.  Some of them admitted they struggled to find women mentors and were grateful to the men who had offered guidance and support early in their careers.  They often found they themselves had to become mentors to other women, as structured opportunities for mentorship in their industries simply wasn’t common.

Diana next asked about examples of global leadership for women, and how the panelists perceived current leadership around the world.  All of us agreed greater integrity was needed of leaders, as well the courage to stand up for truth and righteousness—even when such opinions might be unpopular. 

I was able to contribute some sobering statistics on women’s leadership in the technology industry,  including:

  • Women make up just 27.6% of the tech industry workforce
  • Over 50% of women in tech report harassment and sexism
  • Only 11% of women in tech serve in management roles
  • 50% of women in tech leave their job before the age of 35 due to lack of job advancement
  • And 30% of women over age 35 are still in junior tech positions, compared to just 5% of men

Diana then asked the panelists how they had thrived in industries typically dominated by men:  Lexie in aviation, Rangina in Afghanistan government, Martha in biochemistry, and Tracey in electronics manufacturing.  All of the women found a strong belief in themselves, a resolve to overcome all obstacles, and to succeed in fields they loved despite the lack of women’s leadership in those fields. As such, they made themselves leaders and so hope their successes can inspire other women to believe in themselves as well.

Finally, Diana closed the panel asking how we might make progress faster in women’s leadership.  We readily shared the perspective that allies and mentors help speed progress, as well as continuing education and an ability to define leadership on your own terms—not necessarily the historical or patriarchal perspectives on what it means to lead.

I was thrilled to be included in this important discussion, and hope my contributions were encouraging to the women on the panel and the women in the audience, hearing these real-world stories of opportunities and obstacles, setbacks and success.  It was an uplifting event and I am so grateful to the Global Chamber—and my colleagues on the panel—for this chance to advance and support global leadership for women!