As part of the SuiteWorld 2019 dedicated Women in Business track, a host of women with backgrounds in the business world shared their advice for women in a male-dominated environment
Deborah Perry Piscione, CEO of network Alley to the Valley, said she saw a significant difference in the way women behaved towards each other when she moved to a different part of the US.
After moving from Washington where she worked in government to Silicon Valley, she found the women had a different attitude, seeking to help each other as opposed to climb over each other to reach the top.
During her third week in Silicon Valley, she had a brief conversation with a woman in a Starbucks queue, which quickly snowballed into her meeting a venture capitalist and raising $5m in funding.
“All of a sudden, all these women were coming on to give unsolicited advice. One by one, these women adopted me to share advice, to share their knowledge,” she said.
Fascinated by “this new breed of women in Silicon Valley”, she launched Alley to the Valley to give women from different backgrounds and walks of life the opportunity to meet with the aim of helping them build a network and learn from each other.
Research conducted by Alley to Valley found that men are brought up to be competitive, first in sports, and then in the workplace – a workplace that was originally designed with men in mind. Girls, however, are more likely to compete with each other.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, and she used the #MeToo movement as an example of how women working together managed to make strides at a faster pace than ever before.
While this isn’t necessarily reflected in areas such as at board level, according to Piscione, there is a significant change.
“We’ve seen this enormous uptick in women creating their own funds and angel funds and building their own business at home,” she said. “What we knew is that this was not being reflected in the stats that were being shown.”
Claiming the “power has shifted”, Piscione said: “Some of the most powerful women and wealthiest women are not going to school, like Kylie Jenner and Cardie B, and are having such potent messages out there – right, wrong, good, bad or indifferent.”
This doesn’t mean the power of the individual should be underestimated, and Piscione encouraged those listening to start building on their own network and pushing for the changes they want to see.
Role models are extremely important when it comes to encouraging women to pursue a career in tech and stick with it.
So, what can we learn from people who are embedded in the technology sector and in other male-dominated environments?
Characteristics to adopt to ‘make a difference’
As part of her advice for the Women in Business audience at SuiteWorld 2019, Deborah Perry Piscione, CEO of network Alley to the Valley, suggested four ways people can change their outlook in order to make a difference both in their careers and in their lives.
- Shift your mindset: Piscione said many women can come from a place of “defense” in their career, especially if they’re in a male-dominated environment. Women often “start from a place of distrust” with other women, but it’s better for everyone to change this attitude and form partnerships, she said, adding: “It is so critical to take ourselves out of the defensive position and be part of the offensive.”
- Be transactional: Piscione emphasised the importance of both asking for and offering help. She said no one begins their day wondering what they are going to do for another person, and so asking for what you want and need, as well as being willing to offer others help, is “something you should be mindful of every single day”.
- Think about yourself as an entrepreneur: Take the emotion out of business transactions because “business is just business”.
- Build your female golf course: Using the analogy of a golf course, where traditionally men make many business deals, Piscione said women should always be working on their network and finding like-minded people to meet with on a regular basis to have discussions. “It just takes one person to start, one person to do things differently,” she added.