The numbers don’t add up. While women make up more than half of the U.S. workforce, just over a quarter of roles in the technology sector are held by women, according to labor statistics. So how can more women grow successful careers in tech?
To explore that question, CSL Behring recently partnered with Women in Technology International and Randstad Technologies to host a networking event and panel discussion, “Breaking Through Barriers: Climbing the Tech Ladder.” Executive women from across industries attended the event at CSL Behring’s operational headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
CSL’s Chief Human Resources Officer Elizabeth Walker delivered a keynote that emphasized the business critical need for diversity and inclusion.
“At our company, we’re committed to fostering a workplace that is not only widely diverse, but broadly inclusive as well,” Walker said. “To be sure, this isn’t just a nice to do, it’s a business imperative.”
Karen Etchberger, Global Head Digital Transformation and Execution Systems at CSL Behring, was among four panelists from greater Philadelphia who spoke about their professional journeys, defining career moments and advice on pursuing roles in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A big theme of the night was how companies can help foster growth for employees and recruits while bridging the diversity gap in STEM careers.
“This is an unprecedented time for women to be in technology,” said Kathy Yacko, Senior Director of Innovation at CVS Health and WITI’s Philadelphia representative. “There’s a lot of work to be done. There are still a lot of old patterns and still a lot of old biases.”
Etchberger said that it’s not enough for companies to be committed to diversity alone.
“Having a culture that is inclusive of diversity is so important,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to attract diverse talent if we didn’t have that inclusive culture.”
The Importance of Mentoring
Mentoring can also move the needle for women, the panelists agreed. In a mentoring relationship, women can get guidance that will help them develop their skills and learn to navigate the workplace. Etchberger and other WITI panelists spoke about the importance of creating opportunities at work for both formal and informal mentorships. Whether one is a seasoned professional or just starting on a career path, often both the mentor and the mentee benefit, the panelists said.
“You probably get as much out of that relationship as they do,” said panelist Brigitte Daniel-Corbin, Executive VP of Wilco Electronic Systems. “I think there’s always a give and take component to it.”
To be sure, there needs to be chemistry, advised Jacqueline Feild, Department Head, Institutional Systems, at Vanguard. Know what you want from mentoring and if it’s not a good fit, speak up.
“The chemistry has to be there,” Feild said. “If it isn’t, I will help find you someone else.”
And things can change over time.
“Some mentors are there for a season, some mentors are there for a lifetime,” added panelist Darla Wolfe, Head of IT at Myoderm. “It depends on where you are in the journey.”