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10 Takeaways from Grace Hopper Celebration 2019

Anna Schlegel

This fall, more than 25,000 people gathered in Orlando to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Held in various locations across the US every year, the event offers an incredible opportunity to attend keynotes from top technologists, network with peers, and gain important resources to help women succeed in and further their careers.

NetApp has been involved with GHC since 2008 and was proud to send over 200 employees to this year’s event. Two of the most popular breakout sessions were led by NetApp’s own Sheila O’Connor, who discussed how to stay focused in a world that is increasingly full of distractions, and Rachelle Helton, who shared tips on how to cultivate mentors.

NetApp was also pleased to sponsor select students to attend GHC19, enabling them to network with senior leaders, NetApp engineers, Women in Technology members, and even attend exclusive events throughout the week.

As I reflect back on an incredible week full of innovation, leadership, and opportunity, a few main themes come to mind. Here are my top 10 takeaways from Grace Hopper 2019:

  1. Overall representation of women in the technical workforce is growing. However, the current growth rate is only 1.1%.
  2.  The goal for is to reach 50/50 representation by 2025. Each company is being called on to support this goal. However, it’s a lofty goal and the current rate of increase is too slow.
  3. believes that 50/50 representation can be achieved by improving equity in 5 pillars: pay equity, hiring, retention, VC funding for women-led businesses, and empowerment.
  4. Research shows that when an organization reaches 30% representation of any minority group it gets to a tipping point where the company culture changes and the path to equity accelerates.
  5. It’s about Intentional inclusivity – you can’t leave diversity and inclusion out of the discussion.
  6. Intersectionality – it’s more than being a woman. It’s about the full background. You are a woman, but also happen to be Hispanic. How do the two impact you?
  7. Learn about the latest research – do this for your company and bring new ideas in. Experts in diversity, equity and inclusion are commonly being hired to help enable breakthroughs in these subjects.
  8. It’s about retaining the women in your company. Data indicates that 56% of women technologists leave by mid-career (2x the rate of men). The leading reason is working conditions, including lack of advancement opportunities.
  9. Companies that rate highly in the rankings have flex time policies, leadership development programs for women, gender diversity trainings, sponsorship programs, executive reviews of diversity data, policies in performance reviews to help end gender bias, equitable pay policies, and a real effort toward transparency. Want to make a difference? Consider implementing some of these in your own organization.
  10. Finally, actively expand the reach in your hiring processes and seek out women technologists.

Here at NetApp, we’re proud to foster an environment that celebrates our differences, authenticity, and individuality as strengths and opportunities to grow together. Consider attending next year’s GHC event to get inspired and help us to achieve 50/50 representation in tech by 2025!

For more data or to research these topics further, please visit:

Anna Schlegel

Anna N Schlegel is Vice President of the Global Portfolio-to-Market Lifecycle organization at NetApp. Anna serves as the Executive Sponsor of NetApp’s Women in Technology organization (WIT), where she focuses on developing female leaders in the tech industry. She is also the co-founder of Women in Localization, the leading professional organization for women in the Localization industry with over 5000 members worldwide. Anna speaks 6 languages, is a native of Catalunya, and lives with her family in Santa Clara, California.

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