Women are drastically underrepresented in the technologyindustry, facing disproportionately more challenges andobstacles in the workforce.
General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) sought to empowerwomen in technology by providing them with tools to enhance andevolve their careers. Its annual Women + Tech event did just that, andsuccessfully navigated the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic byleveraging technology, but now the organizers wanted to up-level theexperience for future sessions.
GDIT utilized Grip’s AI-powered event, matchmaking, and networking technology to evolve its one-day, virtual Women +Technology event. Grip technology enabled attendees to make the most of the event and delivered meaningful connections for attendees before, during and after its conclusion. As a result, 75% of attendees said they gained actionable tools and connections to help build their careers in technology.
A core goal of Women + Technology is helping women make connections, find mentors and get the support they need for a fulfilling technology career, we had to make sure this was not lost when we pivoted to a virtual format.
Only 3% of women say a career in technology is their first choice, according to a recent PWC survey. It’s important that careers in technology are seen as more attractive and inclusive for everyone. To help move this mission forward, the Women + Technology event was created by tech firm, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) to help women learn about the industry.
GDIT, which supports some of the most complex government, defense, and intelligence projects across the country, has fostered an inclusive workplace environment with nine employee resource groups (ERGs) supporting its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
GDIT’s ForWARD (For Women's Advancement, Recognition, and Development) ERG was established with a goal of creating a place where women could network, gain actionable tools and learn how to advance their careers. The annual Women + Technology event was created in 2018 to further this goal. This one-day event features inspirational keynote speakers as well as diverse panels of guests who share stories about how they built their careers in technology and beyond. Since its inception, the event has focused on enabling attendees to build connections with unique event features such as live Q&A sessions, speed networking and more.
Another key focus of the event is supporting new talent in the technology field. In addition to inviting students and early career professionals to the main event, last year GDIT hosted a students-only STEM coding challenge, with scholarships awarded to the winners.
There's also a continuing education component to the event. “We've hosted sessions which detail the tech certifications that will be the most impressive on your resume; how to brand yourself in the professional space; and even awarded technical certification credits to attendees,” explained GDIT Business Area Vice President and ForWARD ERG executive sponsor Nisa Moore.
Today, the event attracts women and allies across the technology industry, as well as students and early career professionals considering a career in tech. The event is free to attend and open to all, so everyone can benefit from its content and connections.
In 2020, as women faced new challenges at work and at home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Women + Technology event took on even more significance. Pivoting quickly to a virtual format, the team ensured the event's programming reflected the significant challenges confronting women in the workplace, and that the event’s technology enabled genuine connections with engaging content.
“A core goal of Women + Technology is helping women make connections, find mentors and get the support they need for a fulfilling technology career, we had to make sure this was not lost when we pivoted to a virtual format for the event,” said Nisa.
Despite the event’s new virtual format, women recently joining the industry could hear from and connect with women who had built successful careers in tech. Women with established careers could connect with one another as well. There was still much to learn and much to gain from participating, and – more than ever – attendees welcomed the opportunity to gather together in this way.
To reflect the enormity of challenges facing women, the theme for 2021’s event was “Moving Mountains,” meaning that when women and allies come together to support other women, they can move proverbial mountains, together. In addition to technologically focused sessions, the event also included sessions on allyship and support, inclusion in the workplace and performing under pressure.
In 2021, technology took an even bigger role in the event, and this is where Grip began its support of the event. The GDIT team sought out our help to enable attendees to create stronger connections virtually and establish a speed networking element to the day.
At the beginning of the event, attendees filled out a profile so the Grip platform could match them with people who had similar interests. From there, matched attendees participated in three-minute networking calls. The feedback was very positive, and the speed networking sessions were one of the highlights of the event.
Participants could also use the Grip platform to set up one-on-one meetings before, during and after the event, increasing their opportunities to make meaningful connections.
With the tool, participants could search attendees and find individuals they were interested in connecting with or take suggestions generated using Grip’s AI-powered recommendation algorithms, which provided instant matches and personalized recommendations for participants based on their profiles and areas of interest.
Additionally, Grip’s platform helped schedule meetups for attendees, based on the best available time for both attendees, automatically adding the meeting to the attendee’s calendar. Participants could take advantage of the platform’s chat functionality before, during and after the event. This was especially useful for students and recent graduates who used it to ask for advice about how best to start careers in tech.
The feedback from the 2021 event was overwhelmingly positive, with over 90% of attendees agreeing that the event provided insight on how they can succeed in their careers. 92% said they planned to attend a future Women + Tech event, and 91% said they would recommend the event to a friend or colleague.
“We received tremendous feedback about the authenticity and eye-opening nature of the sessions this year,” Nisa said. “Many people believe you need to have a perfect career path laid out to achieve success, but that’s not the case. For women considering a career in tech, just hearing that can be a lightbulb moment. If you’re feeling unsure, seeing that there’s no one ‘right’ way to get into tech helps put things in perspective,” she said.
One attendee shared: “I left the event with a feeling of empowerment. My main takeaways were don't be afraid of risk, everyone feels a lack of confidence at times and reaching a goal can sometimes include some failures along the way. I learned to not get discouraged, learn from failures and move on the journey towards your goal.”
Due to Coronavirus restrictions in 2020, the challenge for Brownell was to provide their high-end event without meeting in person. Brownell looked for an alternative that would still provide workshops, training, togetherness, and networking. Grip was the answer.