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Taking Action: Getting Techical Women into the C-Suite

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2018

Register for Watermark's Advancing Technical Women with CCL. This is a day and a half in-person workshop in San Francisco on December 4-5, 2018. Join our informational webinar on October 2 for more information.

By Watermark Partner: Patty Burke, Center for Creative Leadership

Women in STEM careers are heroic!  They brave biases and fight stereotypes that are much worse than those of us in non-technical careers.   In many cases they are the only woman in their graduating class, and once they enter the workforce, they are one of the few women in their engineering group or technical lab.  At some point the ‘bro culture’ gets too frustrating, and they don’t stay to reap the benefits of their investment.  CCL and Watermark are partnering on a new leadership development experience to break this cycle.

The Promotion Pipeline is a Trickle

The statistics for women dropping out of engineering careers are alarming:  career lifespans for technical women are less than most goldfish!   According to recent research from the  National Center for Women in Technology, women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) leave their careers after 5-10 years, while the goldfish in your tanks survives for 10-15 years. 

No wonder there’s no pipeline of women ready to move into CTO, VP Engineering or Chief Scientist roles:

  • Women with STEM degrees are less likely than male counterparts to work in STEM jobs. 
  • More than half the women in STEM fields leave for other careers – and almost a third leave within their first year on the job.
  • Those who stay peak about 10 years into their career – failing to move into senior management or the executive suite

The bottom line: Though women continue to make gains across the broader economy, they remain dramatically underrepresented in STEM positions.

Breaking the Cycle---Promoting Technical Women

Research from CCL and Watermark on What Women Want in the Workplace shows the incredible value of women at work, so it’s even more important to give technical women every opportunity to succeed.   A group of us with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) from Silicon Valley decided to tackle this 2 years ago and began looking at the root causes and the knowledge and tools women need to break this cycle.  With input from the local chapter of IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE), we developed Advancing Technical Women (ATW) a unique 5-month on-line and face-to-face  leadership development journey designed to help women succeed and get promoted in STEM careers.  ATW content is based on CCL and industry research – a critical requirement with this audience of skeptical technologists. 

After 5 pilots and 120+ participants, CCL surveys are showing an exciting impact on the careers of technical women:

  • 92% Better equipped to advance in my career

  • 86%  Achieved better results as a leader

  • 79%  Improved visibility in my organization

  •  37% Promoted!  (higher level position or expanded scope of work)

One woman had the confidence to ask to have the engineering team of an acquired company report to her, and she got it!! 

Stretch Assignments:  The Path to Promotion

Not surprisingly, one of the most important requirements is access to stretch assignments.  Women often miss out on those big challenges because of unconscious (or conscious!) bias.  Bosses assume they won’t travel, they can’t move, or they are unable to manage major 24/7 projects with global teams because of family obligations.  Getting these assignments are a must for advancement and promotion, as well as job satisfaction.  In Advancing Technical Women, participants understand the research and tools for acquiring and succeeding at stretch assignments and develop action plans for getting projects that challenge them and lead to promotions.

CCL and Watermark’s Advancing Technical Women is a 5-month Learning Journey beginning in late November, with the 1.5 day on-site session in San Francisco on December 4-5, 2018.  Register here, or contact me or Kate Byrne for more information.

We are also hosting a complimentary Informational Webinar About Advancing Technical Women on October 2, 2018 to learn more about the course, REGISTER TODAY.

From pay inequality to appalling #metoo behavior, challenges for women in the workplace are top of mind for most of us and we’re taking action drive change. The Center for Creative Leadership is excited to be partnering with Watermark to change the equation for technical women too.

Tags:  CCL  Leadership  Leadership Skills  STEM  tech  women 

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