Learnings from the Essteem Meetup: How to break the Glass Ceiling

On Tuesday November 27th, I volunteered for a networking event, "How to break the Glass Ceiling”, organized by Essteem, a career networking and placement firm I was personally invested in attending and volunteering, because the event supports women in technology and because the panel speakers are notable women in technology.

As an engineering student, studying web development, and a women in technology. I was intrigued by the company and the event takeaways. How to break the Glass Ceiling? Why should we have these kind of events? Do we really have this illusive glass ceiling when we have so many awesome women in technology? Did these women on the panel experience this glass ceiling? How did they break it and become so successful?

When you are in the beginning of your career, you think that if you work hard enough and long enough people (your managers, co-workers, leaders) will acknowledge, appreciate and promote you for your hard. What really happens is you are finding yourself in a situation where you did the majority work for your team by working long and hard and for some reason, someone else on your team gets the promotion you wanted. At the event, I realized that this situation is very common in the workplace, especially for women and minorities. It even happens within organizations where inclusion programs are valued!

From the panel, I learned that at the moment, to be successful, we as women need to be absolutely exceptional and have to fight for every step in our career. This fundamental understanding made me think about my future career path and what I will need to advance my career as a women in technology. I need to ask myself two questions: 1) What am I going to do in order to compete in this world dominated by men? 2) What tools do I need to help me break my own glass ceiling in the future?

So my strategy to overcome these barriers still includes hard work, but also I’m added fighting to my list. In my future roles, I will not wait until somebody appreciates my work. I will consistently show my results to my boss, my male allies, and my advocates who have a voice at the table. I will voice my career aspirations and will not be silent in what I want or need for growth from my employer. It is a fact that that men do ask for their promotions even if they don't feel ready for it right now or even apply to new jobs when they only meet 25% of the qualifications!

Another key point I learned from the panel is to build a supportive environment among the other women I am working with. It sounds obvious, but in reality we don't pay enough attention to this. Even more, sometimes we assume that our female colleague may be our first competitor! This is a huge mistake many women make in the workplace today. Women need to support each other, not compete with one another.

The more women we see in leadership positions help us visualize ourselves in these positions. If I support the women being promoted today, my own promotion will probably easier, because she already proved to all of my colleagues: woman can be awesome at any level.

One thing we cannot forget is our male allies -- yes there were quite a few men at the meetup -- gained much clearer understanding of what their female colleagues experience day by day. I believe more and more in the power of education and awareness when I see how people's opinion changes after knowing the truth.

Starting today, I’m making a promise to myself to educate and bring awareness to the benefits of advocating for women and minorities in the workplace.

I believe, if everyone, men and women, attempt to include these points to their daily workflow, this glass ceiling situation will start changing naturally, however when change is not allowed as a process, it becomes an event.

We have a long road ahead, but as Tanya James said, “There's no glass ceiling when you're working on a common passion.”


Thank you, Essteem, for organizing such an amazing and inspiring event!

-Anna

Anna Leonenko

Anya Leonenko

Web Developer. Former High School Robotics teacher. In love with Engineering and Science.

Twitter: @anyaleonen