“Let’s Get More Women in the Spotlight!”

This weekend, during Seattle’s Snowmageddon, I had the luxury of time to do a bit of reading while the snow accumulated outside. I grabbed my 19 pages of notes, quotes, bold ideas and courageous goals from the Women in Cloud Annual Summit I attended a few weeks ago, and I have to tell you, I am now completely re-inspired! 

Walking into building 33 on the Microsoft campus, I didn’t know what to expect. But what I found was a community of incredibly supportive and encouraging women who have dedicated their time, their network and their resources towards helping women succeed in the tech arena. As a woman entrepreneur, I left feeling inspired and motivated… but most of all encouraged by the energy and passion dedicated to helping women succeed.

I confess, I’ve questioned the sincerity of “the sisterhood” in the past. (Which could explain my constant drive to put more women in the spotlight.) But here I was…surrounded by 1,000 amazing women, and one of the major themes was “Let’s get more women in the spotlight!” Are you kidding me?! This was so affirming. I knew I was right where I needed to be, and these were my people.

Gavriella Schuster had one of the opening keynotes, and my notebook is full of great quotes from her talk. “Be bold. Amplify your voice. Socialize your ideas. We need to support women in business with strong communication skills. (Oh hello, have we met?!) Tech moves fast, and we’re building the plane while we fly it.” Basically, get in the arena, speak out, and don’t be afraid to fly by the seat of your pants. We can do this, together!

Most surprising takeaway from the conference? Only 5% of technology leaders are women, and the numbers are going down, not up. How can we turn this around? It starts in our schools, in our daughter’s math classes, and in conversations with their teachers and advisors, and of course parental encouragement. I believe we can change this and have an impact.

Another sobering statistic I wrote down is the fact that only 2% of Venture Capital dollars go to women founders. Yet women-owned businesses yield 20% higher revenues. All of us in the room know we can do better than this. It’s critical that our voices are not only heard and amplified, but taken seriously.

Sitting there in that room, surrounded by smart and engaging women, I became more motivated than ever to reinforce my mission: Help women speak with strength and credibility and gain broader recognition for their expertise so they are never discredited for their ideas based on their gender.

In just it’s second year, this nearly-inaugural Cloud Summit was inclusive, inspiring and uplifting. I am convinced that the founders of Women in Cloud are on to something, and this is coming from someone who is not even in the cloud. Let’s keep going, growing… and breaking down walls!

A piece of the Berlin Wall, displayed on the Microsoft Campus
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Kate Curtis

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