It had been a scorching hot day in Berlin with temperatures reaching 30 degrees centigrade. As the evening set in, Contentful opened its downstair bar to host the Geekettes meetup “Women in Leadership - How to Get There”.
Spirits were high as the attendees engaged in some networking prior to the panel talk. Irina Botea, Contentful’s Community Marketing Manager and Lean In’s Regional Leader for Germany, held a short welcome speech where she introduced the crowd to Geekettes and talked about what the evening had in store.
What is Geekettes?
In their own words the organization is a “community of women dedicated to helping aspiring and established female tech innovators”. They regularly organize talks and events to inspire and to motivate women in tech. Organizing workshops to teach and refine skills is also an important part of their efforts. The Geekettes community has hubs in seven cities across Europe and North America. There’s also a hub in Gaza.
The evening’s panel talk
With experience comes knowledge. The highlight of the event was when the panel members shared what they had learned through years of working in tech.
The evening’s panel was Annabella Da Encarnacao - Director of Performance Marketing at Babbel, Khaterine Castellano - iOS Developer at Orderbird AG, Lindsey Bleimes - Associate Director at Wayfair and our very own Oliver Hookins - Engineering Manager.
Women in Leadership
Tuesday’s theme was all about discussing barriers, solutions and encouragements for women achieving leadership positions.
The key pieces of advice taken away from the evening’s discussions were:
Know exactly why you want to be in a leading position
What kind of leader you want to be (because you’ll most likely move away from some of the activities you love - like coding),
Trust yourself and your instincts
Keep learning (from your network, colleagues, mentors and research).
Nobody is ever "ready" for the management jump, men or women - you simply have to learn the missing bits and pieces along the way.
How to create a welcoming environment
When asked how companies can create a welcoming workplace, Oliver responded by saying that he believes more in finding the right culture add - rather than finding the right culture fit (expanding rather than homogeneity). This prompted further discussion with audience members adding their experience and ideas.
Annabella added managers play an important role in creating a work culture that can accept, and wants, to grow teams in a diverse direction.
Audience participation and experiences
Although a “panel discussion” by definition, the idea of the night was to get a guided conversation going between the audience and the panel members. This was a valuable way of bringing up concerns, solutions and experiences.
In particular, for the women we spoke with afterward, a few common themes strung together. There is an obvious need for women and men to work together. And women know these topics and their downsides very well already. Collaborating would therefore be much more useful and beneficial for everyone.
Additionally, the conversations after the panel discussion focused on how women can support other women by amplifying, rather than shutting other women down to climb to the top (the reminder was prompted by a recent article, "the myth of the cool tech girl").
We want you
This well-attended meetup highlighted some rather important issues for everyone working in the startup world. But while words of equality are beautiful, action is what counts. That’s why we want you to have a look at our currently open positions and apply today.
Or as Kate said, “I belong here as much as anybody else.” Believe it!