A panel conversation to spark action to create a more equitable and fair world for women and women of color.
Today is International Women's Day and we kicked it off with an amazing conversational-style panel session to spark action about what equity and fairness look like in the tech industry, particularly for people in product field. It was an honor to host some really strong and powerful women each a powerhouse in their own right and learn how they navigate imposter syndrome, self-sabotage, or uplift other women.
About PMDojo and why equity is baked into our mission?
PMDojo was founded by Bosky in 2019. She shared how after almost two decades of working in the tech industry, she felt frustrated with how more women and other marginalized people still struggled to break into and advance their careers in tech. She also saw how challenging it was for individuals trying to transition into product management or UX roles. The chicken and egg problem is as real as it gets and not having tangible experience in the role prevents people to stand a fair chance to get the job because they are having to compete against people who already have direct experience in the role.
How PMDojo can help you?
1. Community Events:
PMDojo hosts some incredible community events that are 100% FREE to help people connect and learn. You can join our community for FREE to be the first to register for events and get weekly actionable advice to advance your career.
2. Get industry experience and experiential learning with coaching:
PMDojo offers unique Product Accelerator programs to help people learn experientially and get real-world experience with mentorship, coaching, and lifelong community. With a 95% success rate, PMDojo sees its Fellows successfully transition into product and UX roles, get quickly promoted, increase their salaries by 2X -3X, and have many long-term benefits.
What does equity mean?
Landi, Founder of Organized SHIFT shared that equity goes beyond equality. It means recognizing the uneven playing field that exists in society, especially for women with multiple intersectionalities. Societal expectations, biases, and workstyles all come into play, making it essential to take into account a range of variables to create a fair distribution of opportunities.
One way to achieve workplace equity is by providing fair access to opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background.
This might involve rethinking job requirements to allow individuals with transferable skills to apply.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, women earn on average 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. The wage gap is even wider for women of color,
Women and women of color encounter unique challenges in the workplace, such as pay gaps and limited opportunities for advancement. Creating equity in the workplace means acknowledging and addressing these obstacles to ensure that everyone has equal chances to succeed.
How inequity encourages self-doubt in women?
Silence in meetings is all too common, especially when women are present. But why does this happen? Women often undervalue themselves and their contributions, thanks in part to societal expectations and biases.
Rukmani, Sr. Product Leader at Meta addressed the issue of imposter syndrome and the different workstyles of men and women in the workplace. Women freely gave credit to others and they didn't feel deserving of the praise they received. This is a common trait among women in the workplace.
Creating equity in the workplace means taking into account different needs and experiences and working to level the playing field for all.
Rukmani reminded us that it is when we acknowledge these issues head-on, we can work towards a more fair and inclusive environment for everyone.
We often undervalue ourselves and our contributions.
Victoria, Co-Founder of Outpace also shared how being an immigrant and moving to the US harbored so much self-doubt in her that she would get anxious during speaking publicly. We asked her about her coping mechanisms.
She shared how letting go of the pressure to know it all or appear more confident helped her increase her confidence. Although this can seem counter-intuitive, this saved her from overanalyzing and gaslighting herself.
Breaking the Barriers: Empowering Women to Overcome the Odds
Men are promoted because of potential BUT women are promoted because of performance. Is this fair? Absolutely not. But the question here is what are some things we can do to move beyond the hashtag of #embraceequity and make this reality. What is it going to take to see progress? Our panelists shared 3 actionable strategies that each one of us can start working on to achieve more equity:
1. Achieve equity through allyship in action
Priyanka Sanghvi, a Product Leader, and former Sr. Product Manager at Microsoft shared how we all have the power to become allies, regardless of our level or career stage. In fact, it's crucial for a balanced approach toward inclusivity. Women need men to come in and support them, and men need to step up and offer their support too. It starts small, like speaking up in meetings and making sure everyone has a chance to be heard. If we all start standing up for each other, we can make a real difference.
Priyanka's advice - "let's not wait for someone else to make the change, let's take action." ourselves.
Did you know that allyship is not just for leaders?
This is what we believe in PMDojo as well and see how powerful it can be to have the right allyship to accelerate your career. Want to see how personalized mentorship, coaching, and a community to champion you can supercharge your career? Then we invite you to join, PMDojo Product Accelerator!
This is exactly what Lily Singh, a comedian, and author shared in 2022 in her TED Talk about "A seat at the table is not the solution to gender equity"
Landi also emphasized how small wins can lead to big changes. So the question is about how we achieve some of these big lasting changes to bring in equity. So it starts with ensuring that everyone especially those who don't have the privileges or resources have access to the same opportunities in life. We need to think about how much we need to adapt because the majority simply is not aware of our challenges. This is where we need to do everything to close the gap.
Having a voice matters.
Landi shared two superpowers we have that we can use to bring in equity. Although it is easy to see the following two characteristics as signs of weaknesses, they are indeed superpowers when used tactfully. It is OK to not know all the answers but what is important is to use our superpowers as a collective and work together towards equity and uplifting others.
Allyship through action is real
2. Achieve equity through inner work
Victoria shared further ideas on how we need to focus on "Inner Work" to strengthen ourselves internally. This happens with mindset shifts to cope with adversities such as imposter syndrome and anxieties. This then allows us to:
Show up and champion ourselves
Push for more equity
Educate people around us
Dismantle unconscious bias
Victoria reminded us how working on inner work and developing compassion and self-empathy can help us become effective in spaces that are not designed for us.
3. Achieve equity through influential collaboration
Rukmani, Product Leader at Meta reminded us how it is important to think of equity through influential collaboration.
"Mighty drops of water might not make the ocean so sometimes we need to open the dam".
Often the keys to the dam are held by people with greater privileges and influence.
about what we can do individually and what we can control to bring in more equity. She emphasized how we should also push accountability on the majority who hold a lot of power. This can be achieved by working together and not a "us vs them" debate. We don't always need an army of women and male allys to achieve small wins. This is where it becomes so important to think about infrastructural and systemic changes as well.
What helped you in your early career to reach where you are today?
This was an interesting question about finding our voice and using it to own our careers.
Here are some tips shared by our panelists:
1. Ask clarifying questions
Mace, a scientist turned Product Leader shared how she used the art of asking clarifying questions when faced with a confrontation or conflict at work.
Mace shared how asking questions is a great way to talk about the hard topics because it creates psychological safety without the need for us to get defensive. It also helps look at the problem objectively.
2. Network without agenda
Mace also reminded us how it takes effort as an introvert to get comfortable with networking. What she found helpful was networking without agenda, rather for the purpose of having a good conversation because someone's background is so cool. This again feels counter-intuitive but taking a long-term outlook toward our careers can pay dividends.
3. Overcome the fear of "NO"
Rukmani shared how she would shy away from asking for what she needed, be it a promotion or a role. She shared how she followed "fake it till you make it" approach to start getting comfortable asking.
4. Embrace being a woman
Landi shared how it was important for her to learn to have the courage to embrace being a little girl and later a woman and continue to stay authentic about her working style. It can be easy to feel like we need to change who we are to appear strong and have. a voice.
Want to advance your career in product management or the UX field?
We believe you can learn best when you get hands-on and apply what you learn in the role. You can do this now by joining PMDojo Product Accelerator programs. Spots fill up quickly and our cohorts are always sold out.
🎥 Event Recording
If you want to catch up on the event, feel free to watch it below.
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