NXNEi: The Token Women in Tech Panel

What is a technology/digital media conference without the “token” all women panel? The panel entitled: “Thank you for being a friend: Tips, traits and tactics of successful women in tech and social media” featured Guinevere Orvis – Executive in Charge of Digital Production at CBC Television, Lucia Mancuso – President and lead strategist at The Blog Studio, April Dunford – seasoned technology marketing professional and Amrita Chandra – Director of Marketing Programs at Asigra. The mood was calm and soothing; the comical “Golden Girls” theme to the PowerPoint slides seemed fitting.

Three broad topics were discussed – gender and technology, mentors and online identity.

Gender and Technology

 “There are days when I feel like I’m contributing and others where I am a prop for a corporate photo opp” – Amrita Chandra.

“There were 6 women that graduated from engineering along with me, and now I find that it’s even less.” – April Dunford

It appeared that although vast improvements have been made for gender equality there are still some stigmas that are hard to overcome. The conversation took an interesting turn towards the fact that it’s not that there are less women in tech or that they are viewed differently, it’s because there is now a broader definition to technology. Technology can now include new media like social media, facilitation – in communities and digital projects. Furthermore, women are carving their own niches in technology through entrepreneurial ventures.

Mentors

“What would a man do in this situation? Usually, they do what they want.” – Lucia Mancuso

“I often met one of my female mentors in the washroom for meetings.” – April Dunford

The conversation on mentors was discussed at length – it appeared to be an important stepping stone to success for all the women. In most cases, it didn’t matter whether the mentor was female or male, but when it came down to specific corporate situations – a female mentor seemed appropriate. The panel encouraged us all to seek out mentors through asking them out for coffee. One of them even confessed to not being asked out enough!

Online Identity

“You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube” – (re: what you post online) – Meghan Warby (moderator).

“Whether you work at MacDonald’s or the corporate world – every job has a uniform.” – Guinevere Orvis

The overall consensus was to keep your professional and personal life separate in your online identity. This meant not sharing the obvious personal details on your family or where you live. It appeared that most of the panel shared their broad interests on twitter along with business but their personal life was kept behind private facebook accounts for close friends only. Interestingly, the goal was more to avoid female stalkers than male ones.