From April 6-7, a panel of leading women from leading tech companies shared their experiences with students with WeGo! leading advertisement and marketing for the event.
By Kylee Hamamoto '24 | April 19, 2021
You’re being thrown into a pit of lions tomorrow and you know you’ll be outnumbered. Only a few have been successful at coming back alive, and losing will cost your life. However, you get the opportunity to talk with the handful that were able to survive. Their insight is priceless as your life is on the line.
When young girls are interested in the fast paced, male dominated technology industry, they’re being thrown into a field that they know they’ll be outnumbered. The lion pit as if opening a door to a conference room, filled with men that make you feel out of place. Young girls who might face such imposter syndrome need big insights from women who have been able to succeed in this ever advancing, high tech world. Just like the survivors of the lion pit, insights from women like these don’t come with a price tag. Although our lives aren’t on the line, the fiery passions that give purpose to our lives are.
The Punahou Alumni Association’s Women in Tech Conference was a chance for students to gain such advice from leading women in tech. The Women in Tech conference was a virtual two-day event for the Punahou community, featuring a panel of women working in companies that range from Tesla to Apple to Netflix. This extraordinary event gave students the opportunity to hear experiences from women who have succeeded in different areas of tech. In addition, the opportunity to gain mentorship and receive advice about making it into the tech world and into male dominated fields as a whole.
As much as the name seems self-introductory, the Women in Tech conference, reaches an audience beyond women interested in tech. Girls interested in any male dominated field were able to gain mentorship and receive advice about overcoming barriers of adversity and dwindling of self-confidence. Boys interested in tech were given a glimpse into what it will be like to work with women who face discrimination in the workplace and how to lift up their voices.
As a student who participated in the event, I had two main takeaways. The value of perspective and authenticity.
The value of perspective.
Rochelle King, the VP Creative Production at Netflix, stated it beautifully, “the world needs both tower builders and mountain builders.” There are people who spend time building stable and immovable mountains and some spend time building tall, structured towers; however, both play equally important roles that keep the tech world in orbit because of their differing perspectives. As men continue to dominate the tech industry, this aspect of fresh perspectives is something that women bring to the table. As societal norms select women as the nurturing caretakers and child-bearing mothers, just with that strength and perseverance that comes with being a mother, allows (not limits) women from being great vaults of fruitful ideas.
The value of authenticity.
This was a lesson I was able to gain at the very end of the conference as I looked back on the different presentations I had heard, and one in particular that stood out the most to me. Each and every one of the women on the panel I heard from exuded pure and utter confidence and transparency that brought a sense of comfort to me.
It was so reassuring to hear from their experiences at Punahou and understanding that these poised and influential figures stumbled and tripped along their way to success.
It was so reassuring to hear them being so candid and honest with their experiences.
It was so reassuring that they were all once students like myself; we all started at the same point.
Whether it was finding out about tech slightly later in their lives or receiving a B- in Computer Science 107, their relatable stories made the Women in Tech conference that much more personal and moving.
As a part of the class of 2024, I’ll be thrown in the pit of lions in a little less than three years from now; however, the lessons I learned over the course of just two days have prepared me for my battle with the lions. My hope is the cultivation of a cycle where successful survivors will come back and foster a generation of girls ready to battle and fight.