Women in Data: How to Dream Big and Remove Barriers to Success

Last Published: Aug 17, 2022 |
Susan Wilson
Susan Wilson

GVP North America Solutions Leader 

As people reassess what work means to them today, organizations are rethinking how to allow for meaningful change for women in the workplace. At Informatica World’s Women in Data Luncheon on May 25, 2022, data leaders from across the industry came together to discuss ideas on how to help women overcome obstacles at work. They also shared inspiring real-world success stories.

I’ve always felt passionate about helping women and minorities move up the ladder in data management and leadership positions. I’m proud that Informatica, along with other leading companies, came together at Informatica World to help incredibly talented women across the globe dream big and be equal leaders in their organizations.

Richard Ganley, event host and Informatica SVP of Global Partners, kicked off the luncheon. He shared a story that was very meaningful to me about how he promoted me into my role by trusting his gut and recognizing the leadership skills I had, even when I sometimes doubted myself. It’s my hope that other women can experience first-hand this kind of support in their careers.

Guest speaker, Dr. Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code, inspired attendees through her passionate discussion titled, “You Cannot Be What You Cannot See.” Dr. Barrett shared ideas on how women can let go of their fears in the workplace. She explored the transformative power of learning spaces where women can collaborate to problem-solve, innovate and envision themselves as leaders and equals in their fields. She emphasized the importance of mentorship and outlined ways that organizations can advance their cultures to amplify the voices of women.

At the end of her talk, it was Informatica's honor to present Girls Who Code with a check for $50,000 to support and increase the number of women in computer science.

I had the privilege to moderate the panel of esteemed industry leaders. They shared their own real-world stories about how they and others are navigating and overcoming career hurdles. They focused on how to re-engage and support valuable talent in today’s fast changing environment. The panel participants were:

  • Theresa Peachy, Assistant Vice President - Data Management, Enterprise Data & Analytics, Travelers Insurance
  • Bronwyn Hastings, Head of Global ISV Partnerships and Channels, Google
  • Alexis Suer, Head of Enterprise Data Governance, FIS Global
  • Rachini Moosavi, HCS VP of Enterprise Analytics, UNC Health

I posed several vital questions to the panel. Here’s just a few of the valuable takeaways we learned from the discussion:

When attending a meeting, do you feel like you have to “check all the boxes” to be worthy of the invitation?

When you attend a business meeting, if you feel like you must check all the boxes to be worthy of the invitation, unfortunately, you share the experience of many women in business today. Being the lone female in a male-dominated space often makes us feel that if we don’t check all the boxes in an imaginary list of attendee requirements, we don’t deserve to be there. It was noted that men often feel like they only have to check one or two boxes in their minds to feel like they belong. The panel agreed that women should have the same grace.

As a woman leader, can you really be your authentic self?

Panelists shared that they often feel like if they don’t lead like a man would, or act the way a man does, then maybe they’re not doing it the right way. They shared that it’s important to realize that, as a leader, you can be your authentic self. For instance, you can lead with compassion and empathy.

What are some key takeaways that can help women – especially in technology – feel more valued and empowered at work?

Trust that you were selected for your job or project role for a reason. You are worthy of it. Lean into it and embrace it. And remember to flip the script when it’s not supporting you as a woman. For instance, when a colleague asks you to schedule a follow-up meeting after a call and it’s not really your role, you can say, “It’s great to hear that you want a follow-up meeting. I can have our admins set up our next call.”

What does it mean to “lead with story”?

As a woman and a leader, you build learned skills over time and gather meaningful and relatable stories of success and failure. Share your rich stories along the way to help advance other women and your organization. Also, collaborate with other women and men to help women envision themselves as equal leaders in their fields through their own stories and experiences.

How can women and men collaborate to help others advance on the path to career success?

Be open to the conversation and foster candid discussions. It’s important to acknowledge situations that are not correct. It’s OK to hold coworkers accountable and make sure they’re hiring a diverse team and accepting feedback. This is important not just for leaders but for everyone. Confidence is key. So is practice.

What important skill sets are required to succeed as a woman in data?

Soft skills are vital to being a woman in data. It’s not enough to know all the facts. You need to be able to display confidence. Sometimes women shy away from speaking up and sharing their thoughts. They need to be able to articulate their ideas and help drive others to lead every day.

Reflections and Next Steps

I hope you found this story about the Women in Data Luncheon as motivating as I did. Helping companies discover creative, new ways to attract and retain the best employees is a valuable goal. It’s important to continue to explore ways to build a workforce where women in your organization and its orbit feel valued, trusted and empowered. When businesses are supportive of women in their workforce, it helps everyone dream big and amplify every voice to benefit the entire organization. When the systemic roadblocks women often encounter are torn down, it’s a win-win for everyone, regardless of gender identification.

Join us for breakfast at the Informatica World Premier Cloud Data Management Global Event Series. Discover ways to help build a workforce where women feel more valued, trusted and empowered. The Women in Data Breakfasts are being held at these stops on the Informatica World Tour (8:30–9:30 a.m. local time):

Looking forward to seeing you there!

To learn more about Women in Data at Informatica, join us on our Women in Data LinkedIn group.

First Published: Aug 18, 2022