The future of innovation in tech depends on a strong and empowered workforce
Yet because of systemic stigma and the glaring gender pay gap, many women still don’t feel at home in technology roles or see a clear route to the leadership roles they deserve. Cloud Girls, a non-profit and vendor agnostic initiative, is changing that thinking by providing a solid support network, mentoring and technical expertise to women working in the cloud industry. We spoke to their leadership team Jo Peterson, Tina Gravel, Khali Henderson and Tamara Prazak to find out more about their work.
What can women do to raise concerns around the gender pay gap that exists in the industry?
“Don’t be shy if you think you are in a position that is not fairly compensated tell HR. If you need to do so anonymously do it. Far better to speak up than accept it. Secondly do not hesitate to discuss with other women to see if your assessment checks out. Discuss locally with those most concerned about this, press, women’s organizations and other groups that are sympathetic to the cause ” (Tina Gravel)
Many specialties like coding and cybersecurity are facing a skills gap. Can companies do more to make sure these kinds of roles are on the radar of female candidates?
“I think we have to do more “grow your own”. By selling internally to girls and women the benefits of working with technology and then providing training and mentorship we can all do better.” (Tina Gravel)
What is the Cloud Girl’s Mantra and what prompted you to start it?
“Our mission is to unite female technology thought leaders to advance the conversation about cloud solutions through education, collaboration and inspiration for our companies, our customers, ourselves and the next generation of women in tech.”
Our vision is to inspire and empower women as thought leaders in the evolving cloud and next-generation technology space. I guess if we had a mantra, it would be “We rise”. We’ve purposefully kept Cloud Girls small and by invitation only so we could really receive the thought leadership that each member has to bring to the table.
“My founding co chair, Manon Buettner, and I believed that if we started a group for women in cloud services where we could share education and information among thought leaders, we’d all learn and benefit. The networking and mentoring that happened were natural byproducts of the awesome energy that was produced from the group. The foundation was education. All of us who are Cloud Girls realize that we have so much to be thankful for—education and the ability to find work that inspires us. As a result of this gratitude we started Cloud Girls Giving. We focus on 2 charities a year where we can make impact. One of our favorites has been Dress For Success. All of us believe in the power of rising and helping other women rise.” (Jo Peterson)
How does the program aim to help women in the tech industry?
Cloud Girls provides a platform for women in tech to not only learn about emerging technologies but to build their own personal brands as industry thought leaders, which can be invaluable in helping them to advance their careers either through promotion, raises, opportunities at new companies or leadership roles in industry organizations (Khali Henderson)
“The Cloud Girls organization aims to help women in the tech industry through three actions-
- Empower– We provide members with support, collaboration and mentorship opportunities to reach our career goals while helping others.
- Inspire- We seek to encourage and empower women to succeed and to inspire the next generation of women in Cloud.
- Growth– We provide opportunities for growth through education, mentorship, philanthropy and a community of industry leaders focused on the advancement of women in technology.” (Tamara Prazak)
How has an organization focused on women in tech like Cloud Girls made a difference for you?
Most importantly, being part of Cloud Girls has given me access to other women in tech for advice, support and opportunities on a personal and professional level. On the professional front, I leveraged these executive-level connections to bring tech channel leaders to an exclusive industry forum on distribution.
“That event, in turn, gave the Cloud Girls and/or their companies an opportunity to advance their objectives with C-level decision-makers in distribution. On a personal note, these women have encouraged me and supported me through a career transition, providing an empathetic ear and words of wisdom. They are my go-to for assistance and my go-to for any opportunities I can bring to them. It’s noteworthy that my experience is not unique; ask any of the Cloud Girls and you will hear similar stories” (Khali Henderson)
“For me personally, I’ve been able to contribute to and learn from this tremendously talented and nurturing community. It’s a supportive group, we bounce ideas off each other, share career advice, discuss industry trends and challenge each other in a supportive fashion. Through Cloud Girls, I’ve expanded my network and the education aspect of the organization (the focal point of our monthly meetings) has helped me to build my technical knowledge in the cloud space.” (Tamara Prazak)
Find out more about Cloud Girls at http://cloudgirls.org