The Only Woman in the Room

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Advancing Women in Tech: Paying it Forward

Hello and greetings from Seattle! As someone with over 27 years of experience in technology, it's my pleasure to share with you some of my insights and strategies for overcoming professional challenges in this thriving industry. As an immigrant woman leading a developer relations initiative for the Oracle Database team, my journey has certainly been unique. But the lessons learned along the way are universally applicable, regardless of your background or current role within the tech industry.

Reality of Women in Tech

Let's start by reviewing some eye-opening statistics. Though women account for 50% of the worldwide population, we hold a mere 25% of engineering roles globally, and even worse, only 20% in the US. According to a 2027 projection, female software engineers only make 96 cents for every dollar that a male software engineer makes.

Additionally, only 18% of computer science degrees earned in the United States are by womenm, and the numbers are even more disheartening for minority women. Hispanic, black, multiracial, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous ethnic groups comprise only about 6% of all tech jobs. Among the Fortune 500 companies, only 41 women have held CEO positions in 2021, and women in tech positions are frequently laid off or overlooked for promotion.

Despite these harsh realities, businesses with gender diversity are statistically proven to perform better. For instance, companies with diverse leadership, where at least 30% of executives are women, achieve 25% higher profitability than poorly diversified organizations. So, if workplaces with gender diversity are better, how can we foster this inclusivity?

Overcoming Barriers

Here are some strategies I've learned from my experiences and research:

  • Combatting Imposter Syndrome: Many of us struggle with self-doubt, often manifested as "Imposter Syndrome". To combat this, you need to learn to silence the fear, breathe, and reassure yourself that your perceived inadequacy is not reflective of your actual ability.
  • Addressing Micro-aggressions: Micro-aggressions are subtle, indirect, or unintentional discrimination against marginalized groups - often women in tech. Responding tactfully in each instance can help foster a more inclusive workplace.
  • Speaking up: This can be daunting, especially when you're the only woman in the room. However, it’s crucial to assert your presence and ideas.
  • Building Alliances: Cultivating supportive relationships at work can help accelerate your career and provide backup when setbacks arise.
  • Watching Actions: People will show you their true colors through actions, not words. Note how people’s actions align (or don't align) with their words and values.
  • Avoiding Negative Competition: Women should support and uplift each other, not tear each other down.


In closing, remember that promoting diversity and inclusivity should be everyone's responsibility. Whether you're just starting your career in tech or have been in the industry for years, implementing these steps can help create a more welcoming and diverse work environment.

I hope these insights and tips will inspire you to stand tall, be bold, and influence positive change in your career and life. Lastly, do join me for my 'Meet and Greet' session later today, I look forward to answering your questions and discussing these topics in more depth. Make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn!

Video Transcription

Hello from Seattle. And Hopefully, you will post where you're coming from in the chat because I really wanna know. Isn't everybody calling in from?So as Laura mentioned, my name is Bo English Richling. I'm a senior director in the Oracle Database team. I lead all of the developer relations initiatives here. I've been in technology for more than 27 years, and I've created some products that you might use today. I also started engineering teams of more than 450 from scratch attacking some of the most difficult challenges that people say couldn't be done. And I did it. Some of them in record time with some creative solutions. And then to give you a little, information about my background, I'm an immigrant. From Korea. So I was born in Korea and then moved to the state when I was 4. So English is my second language. So apologies if you hear anything incorrect.

My family started out extremely poor when I was young. And we struggled to have some other basics, you know, such a saluted shelter when I was younger. But those struggles, I think, helped make me who I am, and it's reminding me why I want and I've consistently been the only woman in the room overcoming all of these misconceptions. And so I I've done my best to read it by what it means to be a familiar and tech. And today, I'm gonna share with you some of those things that I learned along the way and why you should pay it forward. So that you create an inclusive and diverse team. So first, I wanna to share a lay of the land. And if you wouldn't mind, tell me in chat what do you think that 50% is canceled? Give me a second. Hosting a shot. Just randomly, that 50%.

What do you think that that stands for? Now tell me and Sean, What do you think the 25% stands for? Alright. So let me share with you what these numbers mean. Women account for 50% of the population worldwide, but only accounts for 25% of the roles in engineering worldwide. And in the US, it's even worse. It's only 20%. So here are some stats that I wanna show a larger picture of where women in tech stand. So, typically, software engineers make about a $122,400 a year as of 2027. And then for every dollar that a male software engineer makes, female software engineers only make 96 out of 5 leadership positions held in software Engineering, only what is gonna be held by a woman. And only 18% of the computer science degrees earned in the United States are earned by women.

And that number is a expected to increase only by 1% to 19% by 2026. And then for minorities, these numbers start to go. Really works. So only 3% of available computing jobs are held by black women. And then minority services Black Bired Multiracial Latinx specific islander and Indigenous ethnic groups will make up about 6% of all new technicals. Also when hired in tech positions, 1.7% are Hispanic, 2.2 are black, 9.6% are Asian and 42.1% are white. Women in tech positions are more likely to be laid off and then. Now, in a chat, post, what do you think this number stands for? Now give me a second to put that in there. So as of 2021, only 41 women, not per set, 41.

Women have held CEO positions in a fortune 500 department. Out of the 3000 largest US companies, only six point 2% of them had a female CEO. Only 15% of tech business CEOs or senior executive are limited. And for every dollar made by Unumail, CPO, and its health business startup, female CPOs in 89% or 89¢. In 2021, female tech CTO saw a 27% reduction in their salaries, whereas male tech CEO saw a 1% increase. And then for tech workers that are over 35 years of age, 24 20.4 percent of women stay in a junior level position. We're only 5.9% of men. Stay in those positions. So why am I sharing all these numbers with you, and why why should you care about all of these numbers? That's because workplaces with a gender diversity are just plain better, and studies have proven this.

So businesses with more gender representation and leadership positions where at least 30% are women are more likely to have higher work to lead. They are 25% more capable of producing above average profitability than poorly diversified companies. At McKinsey And Company study showed that companies in the top 25% for racial and, ethnic and gender diversity We're almost 36% more likely to not be superior financial return. Work productivity in companies with by your gender diversity can increase as high as 48% more than in companies with a little to universe. And companies with high gender diversity outperform. Those with low gender diversity by 73% when making business For example, women are 34% better at working out compromises. I think we all know this and 25% better at men's room.

The World Economic Forum Research shows that companies with above average diversity scores drive 45% average revenue from So then helping with with a low average stimulus as far as. Now that I've shared with you what we're up against asthma, why women in the workplace is so much better. Let me share some tips on how to overcome those barriers. So you can shine is the only new moment in the room. Let's start with this. First, because it affects so many of us, and it's gonna help with the next three tips that I can share. But how many of you Have ever had these thoughts in your home? I don't know if I should be in this meeting. I'm not qualified to apply for this job. Or how many of you have gotten uncomfortable when someone introduced you as an expert?

Without, you know, a comp a compliment, for example, do you get embarrassed, when someone compliments you on job well done? Do you ever diminish your accomplishments? For example, if somebody says, great job, Bo. You know, do you say something along the lines of that wasn't me, you know, all meetings, Joe. It was all Joe. For example, There are many studies and courses on not an overt pump imposter syndrome, but she can have to learn to overcome this. Not everything, and not perfectly, but we have to learn some strategies to be able to overcome this because we need it to speak up and open that war free war extension success. So there's an author, Claire Joseph, who has a website about this, ditching and And she has just a well good information about, how to overcome some of these and how to overcome some of these mechanisms that we rely on to overcome the gap between who we are and who we initially And she says, oh, the foster syndrome is contest dependent.

So when something is important to you, it's more likely that it's going to trigger for syndrome. So this is why when you're fighting for something important, You can experience just as fun as self doubt. Most of you have probably felt that tight feeling in your stomach. The body crunching, you know, getting a little twitch somewhere. This is one of your early signs of imposter syndrome that's about to the rear expunter your head. And so she says that this is when you've got to ask yourself that self coaching question, and we've got to be brutally honest with yourself. Is it really true what I'm thinking and all, or is it just an impossible scenario I'm speaking? And the Nasdaq is to press pause on those stress hormones.

That cortisol or adrenaline rush that you feel when feels like you're about to go into that stress, dry. So when you're worried, when you're anxious, When you're stressed out, that feeling, you've gotta put, press pause, and learn to slow this down. And you have to do it with breathing, closing your eyes and then having that self coaching talk. Is it true or am I just thinking? And all that story that we keep telling ourselves about, how we're not white, all that with you know, all those things that you worry about, all those things where you have self doubt, all of that could be backed on to neutral, and get that in the mail. So it doesn't even take that long for you to do this. But as soon as we let go of that need to be stuck in that adrenaline stress adrenaline model, We can let those that you need to fight, and then stop leading ourselves up.

That is number 1. The next one that I want to share with you is a micro regressions, and they are a real thing. So if you're wondering what's a microaggression, it's a verbal behavioral or environmental site that communicates some kind of hostility some kind of derogatory or negative attitude, and it's usually towards a stick stigmatized or culturally marginalized rule. That aren't based on factors such as race, orientation, your age, maybe your ability. And and in this case, possibly the gym. So for it, let me give you an example. A manager that shakes the hand of a man's purse before she can be vulnerable. Or see your over your idea in silence for congratulating the man next to you for vocalizing the exact same idea as Brooke. Or how many of you have seen a newbie or white person collection in their bag or at first when they see a black one? These are all microaggressions.

And sometimes people who connect them may not even be able to order what they're doing. So, for example, I was interviewing a man for a software development role, and he asked me if I was the administrative assistant or the HR person not that I have anything against admins or HR folks. These are fantastic jobs and roles, and you are a great role at supporting those that are working in this field, but it was clear that for this candidate, If I was the only woman that was in this interview panel, that seemed to not of support, for example. And that's not always the case. So one of the lessons that I learned about microaggressions is They take a toll of new cognitive lasers, and this is especially true within the workforce because those microaggressions foster us They make you dredge work. They make you shrink into yourself and not want to engage in simply in your role. But you can't be fully yourself if we truly do that.

So you have to learn to confront them, affect it. And if they don't close a threat or you know that the individual who is in threat or who is During those microaggressions, you have to also then learn to ignore them when you bought. She has to pay it. Which one is it? If you're experiencing a microaggression, that relationship is important to you, whether it's personal or work, take them aside. If it's a group setting or a regardless, do you wanna do this, personal 1 to 1 month and ask them, say, hey. Could it help of modes. So there's a wonderful author in exceeding now. We talked about microaggressions, and one of the tips that shares is this breaks. I couldn't help but notice. So, for example, I couldn't help but notice that you rolled your eyes when I suggested the city.

I couldn't help but notice that you didn't refer this person's for, gender. The goal is not to embarrass person, but it's to understand how they're actually thinking across the other folks and weaponizing this is not recognized. But you can effectively confront them to try and show them, and this is what it sounds like in the templates. The third one I wanna share with you is doing what's scared. So I'm an introvert by nature and talking to people whether it you know, one person or a thousand people scares me to death deeply. So, like, right now, for example, I am inside dying.

But in meetings, speaking up and sharing your opinion in a setting where you've got, you know, 10 SVPs and EDPs, if Frank needs to know that. So you're the only woman in the room in that meeting room sometimes. You don't know if you're gonna have backup or if you're gonna be needing a firing squad, then we share your thoughts. That's okay. But I learned that not speaking up is so much worse. So what ended up happening was my ideas get credited to other men They can view me as, you know, quiet or timid. They may also view me as not being a leader, and so I started speaking with them. Started doing the thing that's there. And how did I do that?

So I practiced, and I started with small, then gradually larger And every time I did it, you know, I had a small panic attack, but I powered through it again and again and again. And I practice with fracs I practice with colleagues that I trusted. I even practiced with my husband. So I went and did all of those days. It's Thursday every day. A little at a time. So first responders, maybe then with 5 people. Eventually, I'm giving talks in front of crowds of a 1000 people at conferences. And this was not easy. It didn't happen overnight, but if you practice and if you do both You you are to desensitize from some of those things that scares you, and then you can do that until it doesn't scare you in 1. The next step I wanna share with you is about building alliances. Why would you need to build a license?

So let me tell you a little story that, happened not too long ago. So I had a manager who didn't get along. And I found out that there was most likely going to be a risk out, and the risk is a reduction, of course. You you may call this a real work. Sometimes it's you know, called the restructure, whatever the term is that student company. But I knew that my manager would probably take that opportunity to different And sure enough, he did that. So the week before Thanksgiving, he told me that I was being eliminated, and I had 2 weeks to find something else where I would have to leave the company. And, this, like, I kinda knew this was probably going to come.

And so months prior to this rep, I started building and perished I started finding other people in my company that I liked, people I lived out, people that I had trust, and I reached out to them immediately because I have been setting the groundwork for months prior. And within 2 days, I had another job on the team in the army. And here's the best part, the manager that got rid of me. Our the relationship switched, and he ended up him and his team ended up supporting power to me. So essentially now, you know, he looks rough. So this is this is a situation, I think. That happens quite a bit at work because we are women and because we're more likely to All those relationships build those networks. But let me give you another example, which I think exemplifies this pretty well. I've got a friend out of New Farm, Lee Brown's Asian, up order, Elbay.

And he shared his story with me, so I wanna share it with you. I want all of you to close your eyes. Everyone close your eyes, and I want you to imagine this scenario. You're in your house. The street is a playground. Now in that playground, there's your neighbor's little six year old daughter Susan. She seems to be taking a bag of blood power in it from an older person who can't really see They're in a baseball fashion. What would you do in this situation? Would you call the police? If you call if you would call the police, right, police didn't tell? Pleasure night. Same scenario, but The person takes off their baseball cap, and it's your best friend. Now I wanna know, would you call the police?

If you would, right please and chat. If not, right now. That's right. A majority of you probably wouldn't call it. And that's how alliances work. You're willing to bend the rules of breakthrough law to save your best friend. At work, there are people that who, if they like you, they will shield So they will bend the rules to help. Tip I wanna share with you is watch for people too. It's more important than what they actually said. And if it's one thing that I learned, it's people will tell you who they are, and then do it not with words, but with action. I you were the thing I told you about microaggressions.

When they say, when what they say and what they actually do, don't write March, you have that little feeling in your gut that goes, you have to listen to that. And they're telling you who they are, have to learn to hear it and trust those instincts. Trust that gut. Trust that body. Your your body telling you that something's not right. And it's important because you might be trusting someone who really deflects you or who is trying to or you're trying to partner with someone that may stand there in black mulcher. Last topic that I wanna touch on is this 1. I want you to be completely honest. Many of you, experiences, but how many of you have ever been set up and got quiet at home at work for notice?

How many of you have seen another woman get promoted and think it must be promoted because they're now sleeping with the boss. Favorite of somebody, like a where? You know, or or maybe you've heard negative gossip about someone's appearance or Europeans in the workplace. Or how many of you have excluded other women? Because their clothes were too tired, too much cleavage, you know, too much makeup, too much whatever. Right? Women don't want I hate to call you out on this, but we have to stop this behavior. Work quiz competition is normal. Talking smack about other women just because their women isn't okay. And this one's not that hard to do. Just don't think it. Don't do it. If we wanna create a world that represents all of us, it takes each of us to do those things.

Those were my last tips, and I want you to join me later today at 12:10. Pacific time, 3:10 EST. For my meet and greet, I would love to hear some of your questions. And please connect with me on LinkedIn using the QR her. Thank you.