Kansas City Women in Science, Entrepreneurship, and Research (WISER) united virtually on June 24th. This event provided a unique opportunity for women to learn, share experiences and give advice on how to navigate in male dominated fields. The panelists, representing diverse perspectives from academia, industry, engineering and research, provided great insights into a number of important topics.
Mentorship & Sponsorship
There are many pieces of mentorship throughout our lives, and the best mentors and sponsors are like supportive parents. They are the ones that do not impose any limits on what you are permitted to do, always provide encouragement and guidance and give you the freedom to pursue what you choose.
Advocacy is a key component for a successful career. It is important to have an advocate and that they are talking about you and the great work that you are doing.
There is a firehose of information and we only have a limited amount of time. It’s not reasonable to assume that people will stumble upon your greatness. You have to shake people by the shoulders and make them look.
In the areas that you are passionate about, make deep and meaningful connections to allow others to carry you forward.
You are not going to get what you don’t ask for. You need to ask for things that are thoughtful and justified. You also need to understand what is reasonable and identify where you operate on that scale. Your success is their success so remember that everyone in this scenario has the same goal in mind.
Often in male-dominated industries, there’s a narrow definition of what leadership looks like and this definition typically doesn’t include women or allow women to showcase their strengths. By creating an environment that allows those strengths to shine, we can all help women achieve and thrive in leadership roles.
Recognize that your voice is important and set aside your ego and fear of judgement. People may not agree with you and may even challenge you, embrace it. Active dialogue is how we learn to refine our communication skills, how we challenge ourselves to think differently, and how we refine or reaffirm those positions for ourselves. Get out there and do it.
Women Supporting Women
Make an effort, especially in supporting women and calling on them to contribute their opinion. Be conscious of who else is at the table and give others an opportunity to step forward and share their opinions. Helping other women become more confident will translate into their success.
Most things are learned and practiced, and we often need to do things that are outside our comfort zones. If we look at this the same way as the rest of our work, we can and will get better if we push through our discomfort.
Working During COVID-19
Remember that the current situation is not permanent and re-frame it in your mind. This is an impossible situation to navigate operating as you did before COVID-19 and things are not going to be perfect. Give yourself some grace, let go of the little things and do what you can to make it through this temporary situation.