Women in ed tech exchange advice at Ellucian Live
- Ellucian brought together 70 women who work in higher ed tech to discuss topics that impact them
- The topics included: work-life balance, breaking the glass ceiling, authentic and vulnerable leadership, personal branding, networking, emerging technology, and having difficult conversations
- Women in ed tech can support each other by having conversations around these topics, networking with each other, and sharing ideas about how to move forward
I was honored to co-host Ellucian’s inaugural Women in Ed Tech event at Ellucian Live last month. This event brought together 70 women in technical positions from higher education institutions around the world to talk about issues that impact women in technology and how we can support each other in higher ed. We shared stories, offered support, and exchanged ideas about how to move forward in our careers and have a bigger impact with our colleagues.
One of the topics of conversation was work-life balance, which we renamed work-life integration because balance is pretty illusive. We discussed the different aspects of our lives—career, family, social, and community—and making sure we’re fulfilled in all of those areas. When we have challenges in one area, we have to look at the other areas to see what we’re doing, where we’re focused, and what, if anything, needs to change.
The big comment a lot of people had was that we really need to set our own boundaries. We talked about how to have a conversation about boundaries, how to negotiate, and figuring out how to make it all work as things change over the course of our careers.
Authenticity, vulnerability, and glass ceilings
We also talked about breaking the glass ceiling and we talked about being authentic and vulnerable. The two of those topics together were really interesting.
In our conversation about breaking the glass ceiling, we talked about how hard it can be as women to step up and ask for what we want. We want a promotion. We want to move forward in our career. To do that, we need to stand our ground and advocate for ourselves.
At the same time, to build trust and relationships with the people we work with, we need to be authentically ourselves. Being vulnerable helps us build those relationships so that when we have to advocate for ourselves, we can do that together.
Personal branding and networking
As busy working women, it’s easy to forget to focus on personal brand with all the things we do each day. But personal brand is critical, especially with social media and how connected everyone is these days. At the event, we talked about whether or not our social profiles are portraying what we want them to, balancing the personal with the professional, and how to evolve our personal brands as we grow in our careers.
We also talked about networking—in-person and online—and how important it is to develop relationships that are not only short-term but long-term. We discussed following up after a networking event (like this one) and shared tips for connecting, like taking someone’s business card and noting a commonality on the back to reference later.
Most importantly, we talked about networking as being bi-directional. I often find with networking, if someone asks me a question about something I can help with, that is the easiest way for me to form a relationship with that person, versus me asking for something.
Talking about change
Emerging or continuous technology was another hot topic of conversation. We’re in continuous change now because technology is always evolving. How can we use technology to solve business challenges and help students be more successful? Framing that answer in the words of the business seems to take the fear out of emerging and make technology part of our every day.
And we talked about how to have difficult conversations, particularly about change, since many of the difficult conversations happening in higher ed right now are around change.
The secret to having a productive conversation is to slow down in the beginning to think through the why. Why is it that you are having this conversation? Why are you initiating this change and what are the specific viewpoints of stakeholders? Once you’ve established that, then you can speed up as you progress through the difficult conversation.
More Women in Ed Tech events to come
My favorite part of the Women in Ed Tech event was hearing the different stories of the participants and seeing the common challenges that we’re facing. I think the main takeaway was that we can support each other by having conversations, networking with each other, and giving each other ideas about how to move forward in our careers.
I’m excited to continue this conversation. We received a lot of positive feedback and several women stopped me after the event to ask how we keep it going. We are looking into virtual meetups where we can dive deeper into the topics we discussed so we can take action and share our thoughts and ideas with the other women in our community.