EverFi’s Chief Operating Officer Tammy Wincup was recently featured on a panel of accomplished leaders at the Power Women in Technology conference in Washington, DC. Organized by Bisnow, the panel featured an impressive line-up of individuals who are launching thriving startups, providing mentorship and funding, and putting the local DC tech scene on the international map.
Among the many topics discussed was a central question: What does it mean to be a female leader in the tech industry? Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In has made this topic a point of discussion from boardrooms to kitchen tables. But for me, an overriding takeaway from this session was that each woman has her own path to success, and that generalizations based on gender are actually difficult to make. That said, the topic of female leadership in the workforce is still an important 21st century topic to explore. Panelists agreed that while great progress has been made in terms of gender equity in the workplace, there are still lessons to be learned on how women can put themselves in a position to achieve their professional goals.
Each panelist had a very different opinion about how her identity as a woman has affected her professional story. Interestingly, the common themes of their success were having opportunity, good mentors, and access to choice – themes that can be carried across many lines of identity (gender, race, class). Along this line of thought, Tammy strongly emphasized that female leaders should be recognized as the leaders that they are – without a caveat about their gender identity.
Despite the different opinions of what it means to be a female leader, there were some points of agreement among the panelists. They all agreed that their careers had taken a very non-linear path and that staying flexible and open-minded had yielded them unique and exciting opportunities. It is encouraging to see the tech industry’s open-mindedness to new types of innovative leadership – for women and men alike. The panelists agreed that early-stage tech startups are undoubtedly a unique place for female leadership to flourish because these companies are rapidly evolving and constantly innovating, thus providing significant opportunities for advancement.
And perhaps the biggest takeaway for my EverFi colleagues was that we are incredibly proud and fortunate to work for an organization that has so many brilliant, talented female role models that inspire us every day.