Over the last decade, the world has made significant progress in opening up and talking about gender inequality. However, it is still falling short of reaching a state of equity.
A lot has been done to elevate women in the AI field in various women-centred meetups, conferences, entrepreneur programs, leadership sessions and many more. However, gender inequality persists to be an issue. As I started networking more in attending various conferences, primarily the women-centred ones and listening to the women leaders, I have found my self-inflicted fear slowly fade away and a new sense of confidence sprouting. Here’s my takeaways, I hope that you find them useful.
- Mistakes are normal: We all are humans, and it is okay to make mistakes. No one is perfect, and in reality perfection is rarely an expectation in business. Women are no different and must be kind to themselves when mistakes happen.
- Go out and ask: We should not be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from their colleagues, leaders, and community at some point or the other.
- Career transitions: It is not mandatory to stick to one field. After expanding their family due to a non-conducive professional environment, most women leave the workforce to strike a work-life balance. It is a difficult choice to make and, too often, it becomes difficult to make their way back to the corporate world. Fortunately, with the advent of the digital world, they are no longer confined to follow conventional career paths. They are feeling more independent with the number of career options they can switch to.
- Shine your way through: It is essential to deal with adversities with patience. It is vital to be in the system to make a change. Be firm about your ideas, how you can contribute and add value, plan for yourself, stick to it and reach out to the leaders. Seek out a mentor with whom you can discuss your professional apprehensions. This can give you a perspective of what the situation demands and a progressive career blueprint from the leadership lens.
- Yes, you heard me right: Most women are afraid to voice their ideas and think they are not in the position to command a listening ear. The others who channel their thoughts are sometimes disappointed to find that they did not get the proper attention. That is where the attrition of participation starts. Do not give up at this point; you are halfway through; do not hesitate to iterate it again. Go ahead and explain yourself again. It does not hurt to speak twice. Better that, than getting shunned.
- Networking: This is where I have benefitted the most. I have been blessed to work with some of the most prominent AI leaders and understand the nuances of this field. But I would confess that having a solid network of women around me gave me confidence in my abilities. I was able to connect with the women in ways more than one – how they manage work and family, work guilt-free while making your kid independent, and convey to society how I want to be identified beyond a mother, wife or daughter.
- When I realised how my women network has helped me become a more confident version of myself, I started manifesting the same for other women. It is gratifying to know that you are not doing it for yourself only but raising up the entire community with you.
An African proverb truly sums it well – If you want to go fast, go alone. If you’re going to go far, go together.
- Get comfortable with uncomfortable: Raise your hand to the challenges, show up and take it head-on. If you succeed, then it sets up the trajectory for what comes ahead, and if you do not, it is not your failure. Treat them as a stepping stone to success; you have ticked out one of the many ways things do not work from your checklist. Start having a growth mindset, and these will start appearing as try fast, fail fast methods to march ahead.
- No golden rule: Always remember that there is no foolproof plan for success. The idea is to be consistent and stay tuned to your aspirations.
I have had the opportunity to network with the women community, and soon after attending a couple of women-focused conferences, I realised it is time to manifest what I have learnt, i.e. to show up.
The direct example of supporting this ideology of safe space to discuss ideas and show up was the Women in MKAI Forum in August 2021. This initiative was created to celebrate women and provide a safe space to discuss ideas and express themselves.
Women created an ideal environment for sharing enlightening insights and beautiful ideas on how to overcome unconscious bias. The initiatives like this one within the AI industry can greatly assist women in overcoming insecurities. Then, women will be more confident to strive and achieve significant accomplishments in their personal and professional lives.
I hope this article serves as that dose of inspiration for the readers and instills faith in the power of networking.
Being a firm believer in the principle of “each one, help one” lets us foster a safe community for women.