The fourth Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) event took place today, gathering more than 200 women working in the technology sector to network and get inspired to move into more senior positions in their companies.
CWIT is a collaborative initiative of senior women from HP, Microsoft, Accenture, Google, Facebook, Dell, IBM and Ernst and Young, which aims to attract more women to the sector. HP hosted the fourth event in NUI Maynooth in Kildare.
The event was established at the end of 2009, when senior women from member organisations came together as the economic decline presented new challenges for the industry.
“The technology industry is male dominated and women are under represented at all levels in the sector, but especially in decision-making positions,” said Joanne Charles, product marketing manager at HP Ireland and CWIT committee member.
“Technology plays a key role in the Irish economy and there are an increasing number of opportunities for women. The CWIT group provides a forum and network for women in the sector to provide support and encourage them to go further and to attract more women into the industry.
“The key theme today is to shine a light on why women should aspire to be in senior positions and how to develop their personal skills or brand to get them to that level,” she said.
One of the challenges that companies face is having the right environment to grow and Charles highlighted the need for diverse workforces and management to enable this.
“There is quite a lot of evidence to support the fact that companies which have a diverse management team and structure outperform companies that don’t,” said Charles.
“Our motto is that we support initiatives, whether they’re in the education sector or in companies, for females to become empowered. We provide them with knowledge and we provide them with a communicative networking session so that they can mingle with females who are in similar careers within their own companies,” she said.
Charles said that the recent event specifically targeted top-performing, entry-level women in the technology industry who would be likely to move into managerial positions in the foreseeable future.
Speaking at the event was Dr Maureen Gaffney, professor of psychology and society at UCD and author of Flourishing. She believes that women in particular need to have a vision of themselves at their best to help advance their own profile at work.
“In all aspects of your life, but in particular, when it comes to your professional life, it is not how ‘I should be’ but ‘me at my best’,” said Gaffney.
“That largely depends on it being capable of arousing basic positive emotions that drives human behaviour so managing negative emotions that can get in the way. This is something that we should work at to help us to progress our professional and personal lives.
“Facts convince but it is emotions that motivate the action and reaction you desire. However, creating a personal vision sometimes arouses uncomfortable issues for women – for example, the disconnect between the internal sense of self-confidence they hold and the way they express it openly.”
“To be at your best, you need to be attuned to the values that drive you and what strongly motivates you. This personal vision redefines you and what you stand for in an authentic and persuasive way to others around you in your workplace,” she said.