Leading Women in Tech Get Real to Celebrate International Women’s Day 2016 at Booz Allen’s new DC Innovation Center

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Leading Women in Tech Get Real to Celebrate International Women’s Day 2016 at Booz Allen’s new DC Innovation Center

Women on the Leading Edge panel in the DC Innovation Center. From left to right: Nyla Beth Gawel (Booz Allen), Tiffany Sargent (Intel Corporation), Susan Blocher (Hewlett Packard Enterprise), Nina Somerville (Microsoft), and Michele D'Alessandro (Merck & Co.), laugh with the audience during Booz Allen's Women on the Leading Edge panel.
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Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 10:15am

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From the United Nations to comedian John Oliver, influencers across the globe spoke up in support of global action for gender equality, this year’s International Women’s Day theme. And when it comes to women in technology, we have a long way to go.

While women make up more than 50 percent of the US workforce, that number dwindles at 20 percent of leadership positions. Achieving gender equality requires a systemic change. Few people understand that better than the women who have defied these odds by making it to the top of the tech industry’s leadership. On March 8, 2016, a panel of women leaders from Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Merck & Co. spoke candidly about how they got to the “leading edge,” and how gender equality can foster a culture more conducive to innovation in the future.

The panel was Booz Allen’s inaugural event in the new DC Innovation Center, located in the 901 15th Street Office.

Watch the Women on the Leading Edge webcast recording to see these highlights and get valuable career advice from the panel of industry leaders.

 “It was deeply inspiring to hear such incredible women speak about their experiences, let alone so candidly,” said Meredith Deane, a rising star at Booz Allen. “If anything, a truly beautiful sentiment and nod to the diversity and creativity that I believe the Innovation Center aims to further.”

The speakers shared candid advice on how they got to the “leading edge” and how businesses and society can foster a culture more conducive to women leaders in the future.

A key theme throughout the evening was the value of strong mentors.

“Create a personal ‘board of directors’ with diverse perspectives that you can turn to for guidance throughout your career,” shared Nina Somerville, general manager from the Microsoft Federal Specialist Team. She also advised the audience members to go to their mentors prepared with questions, ideas and a vision for where they want to go in their careers.

Susan Blocher, vice president of global marketing for HPE’s Servers Business Unit, added that women often fail to brand themselves outside their businesses as thought leaders in the industry.

“Get out there, be brave,” she said. “It will enhance your career in ways that you can’t imagine.”

She encouraged women to speak up in meetings, citing an instance early in her career when she failed to make her voice known and “blew” an opportunity. She never let it happen again.

Booz Allen Executive Vice President Karen Dahut concluded that diversity is the cornerstone of innovation, sharing her favorite Michelangelo quote in a call to action for the audience.

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark,” she said.

The event was held in conjunction with the launch of an article, “How Women are Poised to Succeed in an Interconnected Industry,” a collaborative effort between Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group and Intel.

View a recording of the webcast from the event here and join the conversation on Twitter with #WLE16.

Keywords: Diversity & Human Resources | Booz Allen | International Women’s Day 2016 | csr | women in business

CONTENT: Article