Being Intentional: Convening in a World with Too Many Conferences

LinkedIn
group of people from The Arc Network gathered around conference table

By: Rochelle L. Williams, PhD, ARC Network Project Director, AWIS

The ARC Network, an initiative of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), elevates thought leadership on the successes and challenges to realizing equity in STEM. Since 2009, AWIS has worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene ADVANCE institutions and NSF Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program to discuss synthesizing quantitative and qualitative approaches affecting gender composition and representation in STEM education workplaces.

By combining AWIS’ convening power and the ARC Network’s mission to advance equity in STEM, we’ve sought to create community, not another conference that promises a magical solution to research problems.

The 2019 Equity in STEM Community Convening builds on the momentum of the NSF ADVANCE/GSE Workshops, while simultaneously curating an experience that embodies a culture of innovation and inclusion. Traditional meeting features (i.e., poster sessions, networking coffee breaks and interactive breakout sessions) are infused with components that amplify, revolutionize and cultivate a community of researchers and practitioners.

Amplify.

To increase the reach and visibility of proven strategies that promote equity in STEM, additional avenues for authentic storytelling have been incorporated into this year’s programming. To start, presenters will stretch themselves by submitting visual abstracts, visual summaries of their presentations instead of the traditional text-based abstract. Shifting to visual abstracts allows easy distribution of their work within the ARC Network and with external audiences using social media. In addition to having prominent keynote speakers and poster showcase, the Equity in STEM Community Convening will also feature Lightning Talks during the networking reception. The Lightning Talks will challenge presenters to outline the highlights of their work and explain its importance within five minutes.

Revolutionize.

The Equity in STEM Community Convening will highlight high-quality research and works-in-progress that have potential to advance and transform STEM workplaces. The Early-Stage Innovations sessions will support new researchers and practitioners looking to share the initial phase of their work or seeking feedback from the community. Experience Reports, sessions dedicated to those on the frontline of change, are designed for well-developed and/or later-stage initiatives or research.

We’ve also introduced a new priority area, ADVANCE to Market. Presentations will center on research, programs, and practices that discuss academic STEM entrepreneurship and commercialization, including social equity issues and taking diversity and inclusion research and resources to market.

Cultivate.

Advancing equity in STEM requires an intentional focus on creating authentic, sustainable and inclusive environments while simultaneously cultivating a community that collaborates, shares and implements promising practices and tools shown to affect change. Presenter-designed Symposia and Workshops are meant to give participants the time to reflect and create, both individually and with others. The informal setting of the Networking Breaks make way for relaxed exchanges that are crucial for the learning process.

In a world with too many conferences, too many broken promises and not enough time, you’ll leave the convening inspired to take your work to the next level and, more importantly, knowing there’s a community ready to support you in your efforts toward #EquityinSTEM.

Building and Gathering a Community

Join the ARC Network Community! This AWIS initiative connects scholars and practitioners committed to equity in STEM at no cost. In collaboration with Mendeley, the ARC Network hosts a dedicated online group for members to access and contribute to a rich library of curated resources – including reports, articles, datasets, toolkits, videos and more – that serve as an important part of systemic change efforts. As the go-to hub for community collaboration, the platform also offers members the opportunity to share events hosted by the community and their institutions as well as online learning opportunities, such as webinars and virtual workshops. There is no cost to register. AWIS Membership not required.

Equity in STEM “First Look.” Published on SSRN, this quarterly digest allows peers to share a wide range of STEM equity content and early stage research, empowering the community with early access to the tools and knowledge needed for change. The inaugural publication provides a historical perspective of the NSF ADVANCE program and outcomes of and lessons learned from past awardees.

Dr Rochelle L Williams standing outside with buildings in the backgroundRochelle L. Williams, PhD, is Project Director for the ADVANCE Resource Coordination (ARC) Network for AWIS. The ARC Network has a primary focus on organizational and institutional systemic change from both the research and practical perspectives. Before joining AWIS, Dr. Williams served as Research Scientist in the Office for Academic Affairs at Prairie View A&M University. Since 2012, Dr. Williams has worked as a subject-matter expert for the National Science Foundation on issues about cultures of inclusion, broadening participation, and university education programs. Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Spelman College and both a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Science and Mathematics Education from Southern University and A&M College.

AWIS is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies and supporters worldwide. Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors.

Funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program, Award HRD-1740860, the ADVANCE Resource and Coordination (ARC) Network seeks to achieve gender equity for faculty in higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As the STEM equity brain trust, the ARC Network recognizes the achievements made so far while producing new perspectives, methods and interventions with an intersectional, intentional and inclusive lens. AWIS serves as the backbone organization of the ARC Network.

2020 Hot Jobs

LinkedIn
African American woman working on her laptop

Looking for the next big thing? Here are some of the hottest jobs for 2020.

Application Software Developers

Annual Wage: $103,620

Entry-level education: bachelor’s degree

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 24 percent (much faster than average)

Application software developers develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device.

Biomedical Engineers

Annual wage: $88,550

Entry-level education: bachelor’s degree

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 7 percent (as fast as average)

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

Carpenters

Annual wage: $46,590

Entry-level education: high school diploma or equivalent

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 8 percent (as fast as average)

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

Genetic Counselors

Annual wage: $80,370

Entry-level education: master’s degree

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 29 percent (much faster than average)

Genetic counselors assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. They provide information and support to other healthcare providers, or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions.

Home Health Aides

Annual wage: $24,200

Entry-level education: high school diploma or equivalent

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 41 percent (much faster than average)

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

Nurse Practitioners

Annual wage: $113,930

Entry-level education: master’s degree

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 31 percent (much faster than average)

Nurse practitioners coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state.

Solar Energy Technicians

Annual wage: $42,680

Entry-level education: high school diploma or equivalent

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 105 percent (much faster than average)

Solar energy technicians or Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures.

Statisticians

Annual wage: $87,780

Entry-level education: master’s degree

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 33 percent (much faster than average)

Statisticians analyze data and apply statistical techniques to help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, healthcare, or other fields.

Physical Therapist Assistants

Annual wage: $58,040

Entry-level education: associate’s degree

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 30 percent (much faster than average)

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

Wind Turbine Technicians

Annual wage: $54,370

Entry-level education: postsecondary nondegree award

Job outlook from 2016–2026: 96 percent (much faster than average)

Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install, maintain, and repair wind turbines.

Source: bls.gov

7 Indigenous Pioneers You Need to Know

LinkedIn
Indigenous People's Day

From Popular Mechanics. October 14th is Indigenous People’s Day, and we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the work of indigenous scientists, engineers, and inventors who have shaped our world.

They’ve built rockets, developed technology used both on Earth and on Mars, and contributed to our understanding of how ancient peoples interacted with the animals in their ecosystem.

From the first Native American physician to a steadfast youth climate activist to a NASA astronaut, these seven indigenous pioneers have paved an inspiring path.

These doctors, scientists, and activists have all paved an inspiring path.

Start the slideshow on Popular Mechanics here.

Women In Technology International (WITI’s) Women in Business & Tech Career Fair

LinkedIn
WITI attendees wating in short line to speak with a hiring manager

Build. Empower. Inspire. The WITI Career Fair isn’t just about finding your next job. It’s about growing your career and professional network. Whether you’re looking now or just want to expand your network you should attend this event.

WITI’s Women in Business & Tech Career Fair is coming to Dallas, TX, October 22.

Women in Business & Technology Career Fairs are open to WITI members, professionals registered at Professional Diversity Network, and business and technical professionals from the local community.

Events are free to attendees and will feature sessions and content related to women and their business and technology careers.

Carolyn Leighton founded WITI to help women advance by providing access to – and support from – other professional women working in all sectors of technology. With a global network of smart, talented women and a market reach exceeding 2 million, WITI has powerful programs and partnerships that provide connections, resources, opportunities and a supportive environment of women committed to helping each other. WITI products and services include: Networking, WITI Marketplace, Career Services/Search, National Conferences and Regional Events, Publications and Resources, Small Business Programs, Research, Bulletin Boards and more.

About WITI
With a global network of smart, talented women and a market reach exceeding 2 million, WITI (Women in Technology International) has established powerful strategic alliances and programs to provide connections, resources and opportunities. Register today to achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and economic prosperity.

Register for the Dallas, TX, October 22 event.

2 ways to learn the unspoken rules at a company before accepting a job

LinkedIn
three professional people seated on a gold round work couch with one man shaking interviewers hand after job interview

These are the questions to ask if you want to find out if the company shows its respect for employees’ time, environment, thoughts, contributions, and effort.

When you’re interviewing for a new job, you probably want to know what it’s really like to work there. But most interview advice misses the mark when it comes to culture. How do you figure out the unspoken rules about company culture and communication before you take the job?

Unfortunately, you can’t simply ask directly. Companies often give lip service to values such as openness, honesty, integrity, and work-life balance, so it’s rare that your interviewer will come right out and contradict those.

A company’s culture is determined by what the organization actually respects, which can often vary from theory to practice. We’re all prone to self-deception.

To see the culture clearly, you’ll need to look past the words and focus on actions that show its respect for employees’ time, environment, thoughts, contributions, and effort.

Conduct a visual interview

When visiting a company, before you get to the actual talking part, do a visual interview. In 2019, the employee experience is a good indicator of how a company feels about its employees’ well-being.

When you visit the office, notice what are people wearing. Is the dress code t-shirt and shorts? Button-down and jeans? Are flip-flops optional? The spectrum of office formality to casualness provides your first clue as to how a company treats itself.

Take into account how much space, light, and quiet is each employee provided. If you find it crushing to work in a status-driven hierarchical environment where the corner office is the grand prize, pay attention accordingly. Or if the tumult of an open-floor plan feels like chaos instead of a productive workspace to you, choose wisely.

When they ask if you’d like a coffee or water, take them up on it, and get it yourself. This gives you an opportunity to visit the cafe or pantry. Notice whether it’s large and well-stocked, with a wide variety available or messy and tiny. Are they scrimping on supplies and offerings? Or is it a Google-esque cornucopia of snacks, drinks, and menu options? Great generals quip that “an army marches on its stomach.” Does your future employer agree?

Similarly, I’ve heard that a trip to the bathroom is the most revealing way to find out how a company feels about its employees. Because the bathroom is invisible to the outside world but something employees use every day, investments here show a conscious effort to improve the daily routine.

If the bathrooms are dingy, dimly lit, depressing dungeons that have not been painted since the 1970s, how discretionary is employee happiness to this company when nature calls? A clean, well-stocked, and well-maintained lavatory says the organization cares.

These visual cues give a glimpse into a company’s culture as it is actually practiced. You can’t read too much into them, of course, but they provide clues.

Ask these four crucial questions

Meeting practices, office communications, and the sanctity of days off are the biggest tip-offs to a company’s hidden culture. So after your visual interviews, ask questions face to face with your interviewers to reveal what the company values in these areas.

Some companies prefer inclusion and consensus while others value efficiency and rapid decision-making. You might ask, “Are meetings inclusive, with a dozen people or more, or limited to five or six decision-makers?” Big meetings mean no hurt feelings but no speed either. Smaller, sparser meetings mean streamlined agendas, but you might not always be included.

Asking them to discuss a time when negative employee feedback on a decision caused it to change at the company can be eye-opening. Some companies are hierarchical and simply don’t work that way, while others are immensely receptive to employee feedback. Neither’s right, but one may be more right for you.

You might also ask, “What is the rhythm to the work here? Is there a time of year when it’s all hands on deck and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year?” If your interviewer lets you know it’s all-nighters all year, that’s a different culture than a 9-5 office environment. You could continue with, “How about during the week or month? Is the work pretty evenly spread throughout the week or month or are there crunch days?” A performance-driven company will let you know it values outcomes over an easy schedule, and vice versa.

Company culture regarding emails and Slack are especially important in our always-online world. You might ask, “How do you handle the flood of emails and Slacks at your company? What works for you?” Some workplaces expect round-the-clock surveillance of your device and instant replies. Others are much more comfortable with “do not disturb” and waiting until the morning.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

An Astronaut Who Built Paths to Space for Other Women

LinkedIn
Astronaut Janet Kavandi inside space capsule with her NASA spacesuit on

Janet Kavandi, who recently retired from a senior NASA post, went to space three times and added fairness to the astronaut selection process.

By Jillian Kramer

Every time an astronaut puts on an American spacesuit to conduct a spacewalk at the International Space Station, they pass through a portal installed in part by Janet Kavandi. It isn’t the only thing the former astronaut did that changed the work of her successors in space. After three missions to orbit, Dr. Kavandi moved into NASA administration, eventually overseeing how astronauts were selected. She’s credited with adding fairness to a process that for the first time chose an astronaut class that included as many women as men.

So when Dr. Kavandi, 60, retired as director of Glenn Research Center, a Cleveland, Ohio facility that designs innovative technologies for NASA, she left not only a legacy in human spaceflight, but also a moon-sized hole for the agency to fill.

Roger Handberg, a space policy expert at the University of Central Florida, called her a role model for women serving in leadership roles at NASA in the future.

“That next female is not plowing new ground,” he said, “just going down the already existing path.”

Dr. Kavandi said she was leaving for personal and practical reasons. At 60, she was eligible for retirement, and she also looked forward to earning more income for her family at Sierra Nevada Corporation’s space systems division.

Her departure comes as NASA is switching into higher gear to meet a mandate set by the Trump administration of returning American astronauts — the next man and the first woman — to the moon by 2024. It also was announced following other major personnel changes.

In July, Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, reassigned William Gerstenmaier, an official who for years oversaw human spaceflight. Lawmakers criticized the move, and some analysts saw the change as a demotion. In April, Mark Sirangelo joined NASA to aid Mr. Bridenstine on the Artemis moon mission.

He left after just 44 days

Last year Mr. Bridenstine sought to have Dr. Kavandi nominated as the No. 2 official at NASA. “I was fully aware that this was not in any way a ‘done deal,’ so I had no expectations,” she said.

President Trump instead nominated James Morhard, a former deputy sergeant-at-arms in the Senate with no previous space technology experience.

She said she was not disappointed that the deputy administrator job went to Mr. Morhard.

But her retirement leaves NASA with one fewer woman in senior leadership. Lori Garver, NASA’s former deputy administrator and founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, which matches undergraduate women with aerospace industry internships, estimates that less than 15 percent of the agency’s top roles are filled by women.

“When there is such an imbalance at the top, the culture tends to favor men, and women often struggle to be heard or have their views taken seriously,” she said.

NASA said diversifying its leadership and astronaut corps is a priority.

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is No Longer a Secret in the Secret City

LinkedIn
STEM-education

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is no longer a secret in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Nestled near the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Oak Ridge is nicknamed the Secret City after its role in the top-secret Manhattan Project that helped create the first atomic bomb.

Established in 1946, ORAU’s purpose was to advance science and technology education and research by providing member universities access to atomic energy research facilities. Holding true to the original purpose today, ORAU provides exceptional talent in innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest.

ORAU also manages the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education (ORISE) for the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), which is a DOE asset dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world-class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environment contamination.

While ORAU itself has been one of the best-kept secrets in East Tennessee, its reputation regarding the company’s culture and diversity practices is quickly spreading as seen in a recent employee survey. Completed earlier this year, the survey showed that 94 percent of the employees know what is expected of them in the workplace, 87 percent reported that they are proud to work at the company and 87 percent of all employees believe they are treated with dignity and respect.

According to Culture Amp, a worldwide employee feedback and analytics platform, companies with 500 employees but fewer than 1,000 employees can anticipate about a 70 percent employee participation rate in general surveys. ORAU greatly exceeded that standard with an overall participation rate of 85 percent. To ensure a culture that maintains these incredible ratings, ORAU welcomes feedback from employees through surveys and information-sharing teams, such as its Diversity Council and Employee Relations Team, comprised of employees from across the organization.

With an overall corporate favorability score of 77 percent and with 73 percent of ORAU employees believing the corporate culture is favorable, it is no longer a secret that ORAU is a great place to work.

For nine consecutive years ORAU has been recognized as a Best Diversity Company and is in competition for the current year. ORAU defines diversity as all of the ways in which we differ and all of those differences are welcomed and respected in the workplace and the community.

ORAU is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer and aggressively seeks veterans, individuals with disabilities, females, minorities and all other diverse differences that support an all-inclusive work environment. For more information on ORAU and its employment opportunities, visit orau.org.

Teacher and astronaut Christa McAuliffe to be honored by the United States Mint with silver dollar coin

LinkedIn
Christa McAuliffe pictured in her NASA Uniform with coin

The United States Mint is to memorialize Christa McAuliffe, the teacher and astronaut who died in the Challenger disaster in 1986, with a commemorative silver dollar coin.

The 37-year-old social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, was chosen for NASA’s “Teacher in Space” program, and was one of the seven crew members aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger when it exploded.

A faulty rocket booster caused the shuttle to break apart soon after it lifted off.

The Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 was passed by Congress, and the bill will go to the President to be signed into law.

The act calls for the Department of Treasury to “issue not more than 350,000 $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe.”

If the President signs the act, the coins will be minted in 2021 to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the tragedy.

The coins will be sold to the public at a price that includes the face value of the coins, the cost of their design and issue, and a $10 surcharge per coin to benefit the an organization called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST).

FIRST uses robotic competitions to encourage children to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Conchita Jimenez-Gonzalez at GSK

LinkedIn
Conchita-Jimenez-Gonzalez professional headshot

Conchita Jimenez-Gonzalez, Graduate Program Lead at GSK, always felt attracted to the pharmaceutical industry due to her innate desire to help people.

When she decided to become an engineer, Conchita was warned that she had to be three times as good as a man to succeed, but she refused to be discouraged.

Upon joining GSK, she admired the company for its work in the areas of green chemistry and green engineering because she could apply all her knowledge in data analytics, technical and leadership skills. One of the accomplishments she is really proud of is being able to successfully deliver key results across different areas and businesses.

One example is leading the team who delivered the development and implementation of data analytics algorithms, tools, and systems that allowed GSK to make faster, more accurate decisions globally.

Today, Conchita leads a global rotational program, which aims to develop promising new professionals in technical and leadership areas for the manufacturing and supply of GSK pharmaceuticals and consumer products.

Since she accepted this challenging role, the program has grown 4-fold in participants and 7-fold in countries. Currently, she is responsible for the development of 180 talented associates across 28 countries. Conchita has three pieces of career advice for young female professionals: deliver excellence and share your accomplishments; be flexible and adaptable; build a strong network to find support and offer the same to others. According to Conchita, GSK has a robust set of values and strong moral purpose. It’s a company that places trust in its employees and provides them many opportunities to develop, learn and grow.

Need an Extra Push? Find Your Career Accountability

LinkedIn
professional women holding up hands excited about new job

By Suzi Morales

There are times in your career that you need an extra push to achieve your goals. Seeking a promotion? Changing career fields? Coming back from a layoff? With so many options, it can be difficult to choose where to spend your time and money on career accountability.

Find a solution that fits your personality. Alice Chin is the co-founder and CEO of Your Other Half, which helps businesses with strategy and organizational needs. She’s led or participated in everything from membership-based networking organizations to private coaching. She recommends considering what works for your personality. For example, when you were in college, did you participate in study groups or thrive on holing up at the library by yourself? Look for accountability that fits your personality.

What do you need right now? “What kind of feedback do you need?” Chin asks next. Do you want to be surrounded by people in the same career stage you are in, or is it important to find a group or coach relating to a specific subject matter? Defining your current needs will help determine where you spend your time for accountability.

For example, Seema Shah, now the Director of Strategic Innovation at LaGuardia Community College in New York, joined a mastermind when she was about ten years into her career. She cited a shortage of career accountability opportunities for professionals of her level, compared with resources like The Muse for young professionals and corporate-sponsored leadership programs for executives. She joined the group to help with “challenges a degree wouldn’t solve” like “how do you manage different motivations.” The mastermind allowed her to have conversations with others facing similar mid-career challenges.

Be specific about your criteria. When you know your goals and what fits your personality, Chin suggests making a list of three to five criteria to filter any community you’re considering. For example, Chin, an experienced entrepreneur, says she might look for a group with no more than six women, meeting once a week, with additional one-to-one matching for added accountability, where each participant’s business makes at least a half million dollars. Evaluate all options for whether they meet your requirements. “If they don’t, then move on,” Chin says.

Common Types of Career Accountability

Once you’ve evaluated your needs and defined your parameters, consider some of the common types of accountability:

Individual Coaching. Christine Valenza Shin is the Senior Associate Director of Advising & Programs at Beyond Barnard, the career planning office of Barnard College. She describes individual coaching as “more holistic” than the advising offered by the general career advisors at a college or university. Individuals in mid- to upper management who are looking to advance might be “better served by someone who specializes in particular individuals.”

Group Coaching. Coached groups can also provide structure along with the fellowship of meeting regularly with others who have similar challenges to yours. Valenza Shin notes that people often have the “idea in their head that everyone else has it together.” Meeting with a group and realizing that they all have similar problems to yours can spur you on to make changes together. “It’s simple but so powerful knowing there’s a meeting coming up and you have to say something at that meeting,” Valenza Shin notes.

Accountability Partner. If you’re organized enough to structure the relationship for efficiency but want someone to check in with, an accountability partner might be the right fit. Chin says an accountability partner you can check in with every day—even with as little as a text—can be helpful early in your journey toward your goal.

Mastermind. Accountability and buy-in are the basic structures of a mastermind, according to Valenza Shin. The mastermind groups she organized at Barnard required an application process and a fee. “There is something about spending money that invests people in coming,” Valenza Shin says. The groups she organized also assigned roles to participants, like scheduling, checking in with other participants, and reporting on the group to the career planning office.

Re-Evaluate as Your Needs Evolve

Finally, Chin recommends continuously re-evaluating your needs. “What you’re looking for is really going to change.” Further, a hybrid approach can work if you are able to devote the time to different types of accountability at the same time. At the time she was involved in the mastermind, Shah also was earning her MBA. She says the structure of that program complemented the more informal, peer-oriented nature of the mastermind.

There is really no one right answer, so carefully consider not only your personality but also your goals as they evolve.

10 Tips for Women in Banking

LinkedIn
professional woman holding her finger over her mouth as a hush signal

Wall Street, otherwise known as “the Boy’s Club.” For those who are only familiar with the market through pop-culture, the scene is dominated by men (Wolf of Wall Street? The Big Short?). Unfortunately, those who work in finance know that the rumors ring true.

Currently, women account for only 18 percent of finance jobs, which is surprisingly even less than the tech industry! And yet, evidence shows that women tend to be comparable—if not better—investors than men.

A study by Fidelity Investments found that women not only save more on average than men, but they also tend to get better returns on their investments, with men earning a 6.0 percent rate of return and women earning 6.4 percent.

The fact is, women are good with money. Yet, for some reason or another, they aren’t having the same impact on the financial industry as men are. Women are just as capable of forging impactful finance careers as men are, but they face nuanced challenges.

If you’re ready to go into finance, here are ten tips to get started.

1 Focus on your skills, not your job title.

There’s an understanding in finance that money is “fungible.” In other words, no money is different than any other money, and $10 is $10, whether it comes in quarters or a single bill. This helps everyone remember that money is just a tool and unit of wealth measurement.

The same thought process can be applied to the skills acquired at a job. For instance, let’s say you work as an executive secretary. Your skills might include excellent organization, communication, and time management. These are skills that are vital to being a secretary, however, they aren’t only for secretaries! They could be applied to positions in data analytics, business forecasting, and portfolio management. So next time you’re polishing up your resume, focus on the skills you’ve mastered rather than the job titles you’ve had. You might be surprised which direction your experience and skills are pointing you in.

2 Build confidence.

There are innumerable self-help books that proclaim that to succeed, all one has to do is “be confident!” And yes, be confident! Walk into every meeting knowing you’re supposed to be there.

As with everything in finance, however, the strength is in the numbers. Being confident at the bar might be as simple as putting on a smile and giving yourself a pep talk on the way over. But in finance, your success and worth to your company is much more measurable. You do a disservice to yourself by categorizing insecurity as a personality problem, because that holds you back from tackling the issue head-on. Thus, take the time to build confidence instead of trying to wish it into existence. Write down what you believe to be your five greatest strengths in one column and your five greatest weaknesses in another. If you have a mentor or advisor, then ask them if they could do the same. Compare notes, and get to work on both. This is a reminder of all of the hard work you’ve already put in that got you to where you are today. It’s also a reminder that anything you feel insecure about is improvable.

3 Focus on the home runs.

Because women tend to be more judged than men in finance, it’s natural for them to focus on all tiny details, such as whether to wear a pencil skirt or a pant suit. Such details are important, but they are not promotable. A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that women were notably more likely to volunteer to take on “non-promotable” tasks at work. These are tasks important for the functioning of the company but never mentioned in an annual review, such as planning events, writing reports, and serving on committees. In other words, non-promotable tasks are the housework of the office! As tempting as it is to jump in and volunteer when no one else will, first always think to yourself, “Is this something I’ll get proper credit for?” If the answer is no, then wait. You have bigger fish to fry!

4 Interview, interview, interview.

Looking for a new position? Interview elsewhere, of course. Love your current position and wouldn’t dream of leaving? Interview anyway!

Interviewing at other companies nowadays isn’t just about getting a new job; it serves multiple purposes.

First, you will build strong conversation and negotiation skills with every interview. For most women, interviewing is a time of major stress, and the stress itself can cause you to not perform your best. You should never wait until you absolutely have to do well in the interview before practicing. If you interview every two to three months when you’re already comfortable where you’re at, then you’ll feel much more prepared for that big interview where you really, really want the job.

Second, you have an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals in the industry. Even if you don’t get the job you apply for, your interviewer might just like you so much that when the next position comes along, they offer it to you first.

And finally, interviewing gives you a reasonable idea of your market value without having to find out the hard way. If another employer offers you a 20 percent raise, then that may be your signal to start looking for greener pastures.

5 Specialize.

There are many fancy designations in the finance world, which can seem overwhelming. What’s the difference between a CFA and a CFP? What about a CFS or CIC? Why is one of my coworkers stressed about her “Series 7”? Try to familiarize yourself with the most common specializations, but, even more importantly, you should strive to obtain one of them. Many bright-eyed graduates step into their first career in finance with visions of automatic success and wealth. The truth is that “finance” is a broad category, and on its own can lead to a boring career (and equally boring salary!).

In reality, the vision some have of powerful executives doesn’t come from finance but from expertise. It’s simple: People will pay you to do what they themselves can’t. An added bonus? Most employers will offer to pay for these designations! After exploring different areas of expertise, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss whether the company can support you in your pursuit of a specialization. You will most likely get your supplies paid for and you’ll also reinforce your hard work and dedication to your manager.

6 Embrace technology.

The world of finance has been the catalyst and vanguard for technology for decades. Within the last 20 years or so, the process of depositing checks, for instance, has gone from seeing a teller at the bank, to depositing checks into an ATM, to simply snapping a picture on your phone. Amazing! Finance and technology are intertwined, constantly growing off of the successes of one another.

The next time you have a technology-related problem, challenge yourself to try to solve the problem on your own before calling IT. You may not immediately get the answer you’re looking for, but you’ll become more comfortable with the devices you use and functions they can perform. You have a wealth of information and assistance at your fingertips, and the better you get to know it now, the better use you’ll be able to make of it later down the line.

7 Become a mentor.

I know what you’re thinking. “I’m the junior at my company—don’t I need to have my own mentor before trying to mentor others?” Yes, you should try to find your own mentor as well. But by determining to become a mentor early on, you can push yourself into learning more about your industry and practice your leadership skills in the interim. Start small: Educate a coworker about your latest project or invite the intern to lunch. The best way to learn is by teaching!

8 Build your community.

You’ve been told your whole life that you should be loyal to your company. Here’s a new idea: Instead of being loyal to the company, be loyal to the people. The people who inspire you, the people who challenge you, and the people who you know will always have your back. This mindset goes beyond networking. It’s not about building the biggest LinkedIn pool possible, but rather about cultivating rich relationships with colleagues who value the same things that you do. These are people who you’ll stay in contact with regardless of which company and field you’re currently working in. To begin, notice when a colleague reaches a work milestone and find a way to congratulate them in a meaningful way. Years from now, they may not remember what you said to them, but they’ll recall how you made them feel.

9 Negotiate.

It’s no secret that finance is a boy’s club. But one problem is that women often think that it’s lack of experience, which holds them back from higher pay. At my next annual review, after I’ve had some time to establish myself, I’ll negotiate a raise.

Unfortunately, this sentiment betrays the sneaky assumption that pay is entirely based on merit! But studies show that merit alone does not determine your salary. One recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that men consistently earned more than women in their very first job out of college, even when they had comparable work experience! Sadly, this shows that if you aren’t negotiating for yourself at the first job offer then you’re already too late. In the world of finance, this can easily become a weapon against you for another reason: Employers will think that if you can’t even negotiate for your own interests, then how will you negotiate for theirs? So, at your next review, ask. Negotiation skills are good for you and your company.

10 Time the market.

You’ve finished your first year or two as an analyst or advisor. You remember that first time you saw a spreadsheet and panicked at the sheer amount of information. But now, you can absorb all you need to know at a glance. Feels good, right? Now it’s time to apply your knowledge to your most personal investment: yourself. At this point, no one knows better than you whether to start at a new company, take on bigger roles, or do your own thing entirely. So, go out and do it! Remember, the best investment you’ll ever make is in yourself.

Sources: ucdavis.edu, fidelity.com, gap.hks.harvard.edu, epi.org