Shaping the Future of Tech Together: Lessons from Women Leaders

March 28, 2024

As we wrap up Women's History Month, a time dedicated to highlighting and celebrating the monumental contributions of women throughout history, it feels especially poignant to reflect on the dialogue from a recent panel session I had the privilege of moderating. 

During our G2 annual kickoff event in Chicago last month, I was joined on stage by an illustrious lineup of female leaders in technology, including: Ryanne Laredo, SVP of Customer Experience at Nielsen, MJ Jastrebski, SVP of Product at Tegus, Jamie Gilpin, former CMO at Sprout Social, and Erin L. Thomas, PhD, VP & Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Upwork

With each leader offering their rich experiences, the discussion transcended the typical industry talk. This exchange was not just an intersection of brilliant minds, but also a testament to the innovative spirit and resolve that women bring to the field of technology. Their stories and guidance reverberate with the narratives that Women's History Month aims to amplify—those of resilience, leadership, and the relentless pursuit of progress.

While the panel focused on ‘inspiring customer love,’ several key pieces of advice for women in tech emerged throughout our discussion. Here are a few of the key themes that stood out to me. 

Diversity as a Strength: Embrace your unique background and perspective. Recognizing that diversity can enrich business and bring about substantial outcomes is crucial. Use any barriers as motivation to break through and create better systems that value diverse perspectives.

  • "It isn't that I understand everybody, it's that I understand I'm not everybody." - Ryanne Laredo, Nielsen

Courageous Communication: As a woman in tech, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to voice a different perspective in a room where you're the only woman. It's essential to speak up because your viewpoint is critical. For men and allies in the workplace, actively seek the opinions of women and create opportunities for them to contribute.

  • "My ask for all of the women in the room is to keep speaking up... For the men in the room, call on the women, ask for their opinions in the room." - Jamie Gilpin, formerly Sprout Social

Allyship and Advocacy: Build strong support systems, both inside and outside of work. Engage with colleagues who can serve as allies and advocate for a more inclusive workplace. Encourage open dialogue. This approach can help navigate through challenges and aid in professional growth.

  • “I just asked for allyship. I asked for advocacy. And if you are not experiencing it [bias], it doesn’t mean it’s  not happening…you probably should also be asking the question about ‘where does this sit?’  because it does exist, period." - MJ Jastrebski, Tegus

Work-Life Balance: The panelists touched on the idea that a leader's well-being is vital to being authentic. By not over-identifying with one's work role and maintaining a balance, leaders can stay true to themselves and their values. It's important to not let your work consume you. Building tools and strategies to manage a fast-paced environment is key. This can include mental health care, maintaining outside interests, and having a support network that extends beyond your professional life.

  • “I've really built new tools and new stamina for just riding the wave of a fast paced business. And I... have a healthy relationship with  work, like it doesn't take up so much of my life. And that has enabled me actually to deliver way more back to myself to my family and to the business.” - Erin L.  Thomas, PhD, Upwork

These insights serve as a reminder that navigating a career in technology as a woman isn’t always straightforward. For many, it requires harnessing your strengths, advocating for diversity, maintaining authenticity, and building solid support systems—all while managing expectations and strategies effectively. 

One point in particular that resonated deeply with me was Jamie's advice to be intentional about speaking up. To make this actionable, she advised checking in with yourself, using a timer to ensure you’ve spoken up in the past 20 minutes, for example. It’s about having the confidence that your voice matters and should be heard, especially in spaces that are male dominated. This is something I will embrace for myself and do for others as an ally to create the space for them to speak up and share their perspectives. 

I've grown and developed as a woman in tech because allies and advocates around me created space for my voice. I recall many early managers telling me “I know you have something to say, but you don't speak up in the room.” Finding ways to authentically create space for me to build my confidence in my voice was the #1 thing they did to build me up in my career, which is why it’s important for me to do this for others.

I’m grateful to these leaders for sharing their real-world experiences and advice with me and all of our global G2ers. Just in the span of my career, women leaders have come a long way in tech, but it’s clear there is an opportunity to create more inclusive spaces for even greater progress. I’ll be doubling down on their advice shared as I continue to develop my own career and leadership approach, and I hope others will too.

Shaping the Future of Tech Together: Lessons from Women Leaders Closing out Women’s History Month, G2’s Rachel Morris recaps advice from leaders based on their experiences as women shaping the tech industry. Their collective wisdom presents actionable strategies for navigating the tech landscape with authenticity, leadership, and a drive for inclusive innovation.
Rachel Morris Rachel Morris is VP Product Management at G2, overseeing the software marketplace's product portfolio. Previously, she held Product Management leadership positions at Jellyvision, Outcome Health, Gogo, Amazon, and Microsoft.