Although the month of March is packed with reasons to celebrate (first day of Spring, Persian New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, not to mention both my kids’ and both my cats’ birthdays!), it’s the opportunity to honor extraordinary women that inspires me most this month. This is Women’s History Month – an opportunity to discuss and showcase women’s social, political, and economic accomplishments and contributions throughout our history, culture, and society.
Women in Government Making Strides
At Accela, this month our social media accounts applaud the evolving role of women in government leadership and showcasing game-changing and pivotal examples of female leaders in local government on the front lines of the pandemic and recovery – from the first woman U.S. Vice President to the record number of women in Congress making an impact on our futures and in our communities every day.
Women government leaders have been heralded for their skillful navigation of these unprecedented times. Countries with female heads of state in countries like New Zealand, Germany, and Taiwan have been internationally recognized for their effectiveness in responding to the pandemic. Their proactive steps in implementing social distancing restrictions early, securing personal protective equipment, and unifying their countries through transparent and compassionate communication have changed the conversation around what’s important in government leadership. The strength of women to address longer-term challenges like sustainability is also acknowledged, as the likes of Greece’s first woman president are put into office.
Gender Equity Progress Challenged by the Pandemic
Across both the public and private sectors, however, progress was stalled this past year. It’s been well documented that women around the world have been disproportionately impacted by widespread job or salary cuts during the pandemic and economic destabilization. Women have also been responsible for the bulk of unpaid at-home teaching, housework, and childcare over the last year. During the pandemic, women have lost jobs at nearly twice the rate of men, with over 5.4 million female roles cut in the U.S. alone since February 2020.
Achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development goal for gender equality by 2030 was already off-track, so these setbacks are particularly concerning. Why? Advancing women in society and the workplace helps ensure a safer, more equitable, and more sustainable world. When women are empowered economically, the benefits are extended to their children and their communities, creating a virtuous circle of growth and opportunity. In corporate and organizational terms, empowered women create better financial outcomes, profitability, and highly functional work environments.
Conversations to Help Create a More Inclusive, Representative Future
Amplifying women’s leadership and success across technology and government is a way to shine a spotlight on what’s possible, and it’s a commitment I’ve made. Last Fall at Accela’s annual customer and partner conference, Accelarate, I led a conversation on “Women Reimagining Govtech Leadership and Impact” with three women leaders driving impact and results in the govtech space – Amy Tong, CIO of California; Tye Hayes, CTO of Atlanta; and Jennifer Bradley, founding director at the Center for Urban Innovation at The Aspen Institute. The discussion provided forward-looking insights into how leaders can cultivate greater diversity and representation in government technology, and the leadership and technology requirements of a government reimagined.
More recently, I participated as a mentor in the 2021 Women in Cloud Digital Summit’s Cloud Mentorship Circle, which connects thousands of women with upwards of 100 executive mentors to help realize their full potential in the industry. As a board member of non-profit Rising International, President of the Women Executive Channel Advisory Board, and a member of the Athena Alliance, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in creating solutions to break through the gates holding many women back from boardrooms, C-suites, and other traditionally male-dominated arenas.
Later this month, I’m honored to be joining as a panelist at Ideagen’s 2021 Global Leadership Summit for a session entitled, “#EmpowHERaccess: Activating Economic Access During a Pandemic”. The session will be moderated by Chaitra Vedullapalli, president and co-founder of Women in Cloud, who also serves as CMO and co-founder of Meylah. Fellow panelists include Sharan Hildenbrand, VP of Strategic Alliances North America for Hitachi Solutions, and Christine Bongard, President of The WIT Network. The full event running from March 24-26 will focus on global innovation across AI, cloud, and more, while highlighting systemic solutions to solve the world’s most vexing issues as we count down to 2030. An impressive bench of global speakers at the event includes Gretchen O’Hara, VP, AI Country Strategy & Sustainability Partnership at Microsoft; Simon Bland, CEO of GLIDE; Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, UNCTAD NY Office; Christine Galib, Senior Director, Programs at The Ion; Suzanne McCormick, U.S. President of United Way Worldwide; Ambassador Patrick Theros, Former U.S. Ambassador to the State of Qatar; and many more! To tune into the session, you can register here for Ideagen’s 2021 Global Leadership Summit.
There is a saying we use at Accela that I’d like to share here: “We don’t have to have all of the answers in order to have the conversation.” In a month like this one, I’m excited to keep learning from and celebrating the women in this industry who are navigating unprecedented challenges, tackling tricky topics, and making differences in their communities each day. In fact, those are the conversations I hope we never stop having.