The Empowerment Project Award

On March 30th, 2017, Cape Fear Women in Tech was honored by The Empowerment Project in partnership with CFCC's Social & Behavioral Sciences.

What is The Empowerment Project?  The Empowerment Project is a movement — with a powerful documentary film at its core — to honor the women in our lives.  It is the story of five female film makers who knew that powerful, inspiring women were all around us, but they weren't seeing them in the media.  So they embarked on a 7,000 mile journey across the U.S. and interviewed these extraordinary role models. 

Screening and Award presentation at CFCC

Screening and Award presentation at CFCC

CFCC was awarded the copyright to screen this inspirational documentary.  At the conclusion of the screening, Cape Fear Women in Tech was presented with the Certificate of Appreciation for all of our collective efforts.

Manage and be managed: Evaluating project management software.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to selecting the best project management software for your team.  Every team has unique needs, and the majority of evaluations can lead you through an endless thread of commonalities repeated throughout various tools, all touting that they are the best of the best. To weed through the monotony of similarities, first define your team’s criteria and needs.

To determine what your team requires and how to select a product, here are a few helpful questions to ask yourselves and steps to take:

  1. How big is my group in relationship to my budget?  Budget and team size can be the most important factors in evaluating what is appropriate for your team. You may have a steak appetite on a hotdog budget, and it is easy to gravitate toward the latest, top-ofthe-line product, but that may not be realistic for your team. Determine what you can reasonably afford per user account and start shopping at that price point.
  2. What management features do we NEED?  What you want vs. what you need are two very different questions. The Rolling Stones say it best “you can’t always get what you want.” When determining the must haves, consider walking through a typical day in the life of a team member. What steps must a user take to accomplish a goal? What types of team members need to be involved throughout the process? What would make our team / team members more efficient? Where are we falling short in our process?  Answers to these types of questions will establish your criteria for selecting a software product. Try not to be distracted by tools and integrations that seem cutting edge or could be useful, and focus on what would be useful.
  3. Where do we look and compare?  There are so many forums and posts evaluating a multitude of products and processes, you can quickly be overwhelmed by information and feel less informed than when you started. Limit yourself to 3 reputable forums that provide user reviews and feature comparisons. By limiting your options you can more clearly distill common opinions about software. If you see one or two companies competing for the top rankings, chances are they both have great qualities that are similar in nature.  
  4. Try before you buy.  Most software comes with a free trial of some sort. It does not hurt to try on a pair of jeans or two before you walk out of the store convinced you have THE pair. This is true with any purchase. If you are afforded the luxury of a trial, then why not give it a shot? You don’t need to try every single product available for demo, but do select your top two or three and give them a spin. Keep a record of your running opinions about a product’s features. Create a list of likes and dislikes before you move on to the next trial. 
  5.  The big decision.  After you have established what you can comfortably afford vs. what you need and have compared various choices, it is time to select the winner. While it’s important to listen to the whole team, be sure to give more weight to the opinions of those who will be using the software on a more frequent basis. Determine who will be the primary stakeholders in the product’s daily functions and who will use the tool less frequently. You might find that there are individual team members who are vocal proponents or some who are strongly opposed to a product. Keep sight of what’s the best fit for the group overall. Whose workflow will most heavily be impeded vs. improved? In the end, you are trying to improve efficiency, not diminish it.
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Written by Trista Banfield, Technical Project Manager at Morvil Advertising + Design Group.  Trista also is a member of the Cape Fear Women in Tech Marketing Committee.

Edited by Leslie Wiegle, Project Manager, Technical Writing and Editing Professional.  Leslie is also is a member of the Cape Fear Women in Tech Marketing Committee.  

Diversity in Tech: An Opportunity

A UNCW-CFWIT Panel Recap

Early this summer Kristin Lancaster, Emilyanne Atkinson and I made our way to the Computer Science auditorium on the UNC Wilmington campus to discuss gender in tech with Dr. Curry Guinn's Professionalism and Ethics in Computer Science class. Dr. Guin reached out to Emilyanne and I because we’re part of Cape Fear Women in Tech, and he thought we might have an opinion or information to impart on the matter. Emilyanne and I decided it would be a great opportunity to have an open discussion and connect with future tech professionals, so we said yes and roped in another participant. As a part of GE Women’s Network and experienced woman in tech, Kristin was a perfect fit for our third panelist, so we were glad she was willing to be a part of the talk.  

A couple weeks prior to the event we all met to plan tackling what I consider a tough conversation. It's not that others don't recognize the lopsided male-female ratio in tech, but it can be uncomfortable as meandering comments and questions search for a magnetic north of blame. Based on observations throughout my short life, guilt is not the most generous of motivators. I prefer personal agency and chance to feel good about making a difference for the future - men and women move mountains to catch a glimpse of that feeling. Kristin suggested we discuss a gender diversity opportunity rather than an issue or problem, and we agreed. Shock and awe, even outrage, was not our objective. Rather, our goal was to communicate a collection of real, personal experiences and perspectives, encourage thought around why and if it matters to have diversity in tech, and plant seeds for small daily actions that could lead to larger change in the future.

As usual I forgot to take a picture while in the presence of the students, so I’ll paint a picture; 35 students, 31 males and 4 females of various ethnicities, backgrounds and ages.

This is a summary of our conversation that day.

(Slide we used as our backdrop)

We started with some “get to know you” questions for the students.

What year are you? Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors,

Where did you grow up? Southeast, South, Northeast, West Coast, Southwest, Middle America, Abroad

Majors?

○ CS? About half

○ IT? Most of the rest

○ Business? 2

○ Any Psych majors like Kristin and I? Nope

Do you care about and strive to create the best and baddest-ass technology products and solutions possible? Yes. We all had this one in common. Next, I gave the students a little introduction to how this thing was about to go down.

● We were asked to join you to discuss gender in tech. Our backgrounds are fairly diverse, but we all currently work in tech in our own ways.

● The plan today is provide you with some perspective. I'm sure you've already reviewed a ton of statistics and reports on diversity in tech and specifically the gender makeup of some of the most highly regarded tech behemoths in Silicon Valley. You can read all the data on your own. What we're looking to do today is impart the perspective of three real people who work in tech - we're going to tell you parts of our story and what we see from the inside looking around and out.

● We don't pretend to be experts in gender issues and the state of gender or diversity in tech, however, we have a collection of life experiences to draw from that we hope will help to add some humanity to what you've read and heard.

● As far as format - I'm going to have our guests introduce themselves then I'll begin asking them questions we prepared in advance. Our conversation may spark questions you have or points you'd like to make - do not hesitate to raise your hand and say what you like.

We developed the following questions in advance for me to ask Emilyanne and Kristin. Each of us had our favorites as indicated by our names. 

● Emilyanne - What was the gender makeup of your average computer science class when you were in school?

● All - What made you interested in tech in the first place?

● Paint a picture of your engineering team.

● All - Do you think there is a gender diversity opportunity in tech? Describe it.

○ Why should any of us care about it if there is one?

● What do you see in Wilmington that is the same or different from what you've seen elsewhere, or what your sense of the national/global climate?

● Emilyanne - Do you think that given enough time whatever diversity issues exist will just fix themselves?

● What's most difficult about your current position? Does it have anything to do with your gender? How do you overcome it?

● Audrey - Have you ever discussed gender in tech with female colleagues? Male colleagues - what did it sound like? Was there a conclusion? What surprised you?

● How does communication influence your teams - do you notice differences in men and women? Is it ever a problem? Is it a benefit? Do you consider your communication style male/female/neither?

● Kristin - Does public image matter? How do you approach it?

● Kristin - What role does authenticity play for you personally? Can you give an example of a time you didn't feel authentic?

● Kristin - Can you speak to your strategy of switching to the opposite of your default approach?

● Emilyanne - How does authenticity play out for you? From a cultural perspective do you think sometimes people feel they need to bend to the existing culture?

● Kristin - What is the problem with perfectionist tendencies in development/tech?

● Kristin - What is imposter syndrome and have you seen it in action/felt it? How to overcome it?

● What questions do you have for the students?

In a perfect world I would be able to provide a transcript of our conversation or at least answers to the questions here. The world is not perfect, so these questions will have to serve as sparks for your own internal dialogue or healthy group conversation.

I do have a few of my favorite takeaways to share:

● From Emilyanne - Maintain your sense of self, sometimes it’s good to stand out.

● From Kristin - Perfectionist tendencies are a trap that can hold you back in your career and in product development.

As we spoke, I was appreciative of the students’ respectful attention. Some made comments around their personal experiences - one female student recounted a situation at at work in a computer repair shop when a customer insisted on being helped by a male. All in all, I think we accomplished our mission. The students weren’t bored out of their skulls and possibly even had a few quality ideas to chew on, and I got to hang out with Kristin and Emilyanne. In conclusion, the statistics don’t lie, there are more men in technology professions than women. Over time, I hope the numbers change because it’s important to me that those crafting the future of technology, our future, have a rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives to bring to this work, this art. We wrapped up with this simple message... All we really want is to be good people and make great things, and if we all focus on that the world will be an awesome place.

And now, back to work.

Kristin Lancaster

Emilyanne Atkinson

Audrey Speicher

UNCW Department of Computer Science

 

Special thanks to Dr. Guinn and his fantastic class!

CFWIT Committees

Thank you for supporting Cape Fear Women in Tech! Soon we will hit our one year anniversary, and could not be where we are without your support and participation.

Going forward, we have an exciting announcement to make. Each board member has created a "committee" to take over the leadership of running various aspects of CFWIT, from event management to marketing.

We are opening up the committees to the ladies of CFWIT, and are giving you the opportunity to join one. Your skills and experience can be used to make our second year even better than our first.

Keep reading to view the opportunities and how to move forward if you're interested in joining a committee.


Membership
Chaired by Ann Revell-Pechar

For those interested in helping grow our community of professional, technology-centric women: we could use your help! We need three people who would like to join the membership committee. This is a great pathway to leadership, and it gives you the opportunity to get to know colleagues you may not even have met yet.

If you’re interested in pursuing this committee, or have questions, please email ann@arevell.com and put CFWIT Membership in the Subject line. 


Mentorship
Chaired by Ann Revell-Pechar

Have you ever been in a mentorship program before? CFWIT is looking to organize a top-tier program that has great benefits for both mentor and mentee.

If you’d like to be part of our organizing and operating team for mentors, please contact ann@arevell.com 


Events
Chaired by Audrey Speicher

Do you enjoy putting together fantastic experiences and events? The Events Committee is seeking two people to participate in the planning and execution of CFWIT functions. We are 'details people' and proud of it. The commitment is one year followed by help transitioning the new committee members into the role.

If you are interested, please contact speicheraudrey@gmail.com 


Community Outreach
Chaired by Kelli Davis

The mission of the Community Outreach Committee is to connect CFWIT members with opportunities for community involvement in the Cape Fear area especially when we are able to leverage the technical talents of our members. We also want to engage members in actively strengthening and supporting educational initiatives for young women in the Cape Fear area by identifying member resources and interests and brokering successful matches.

We will be looking for representation from our membership to participate on the inaugural committee for 2016! If you have a desire to give back to our community, please consider joining! Contact kellid@castlebranch.com.


Marketing
Chaired by Hannah Wilson

Do you love social media, writing, photography & video, or design? If you want to help promote CFWIT through marketing and produce content to provide more value for our members, you belong on the marketing committee.

We are specifically looking for a:

  • writer for newsletter, website, event, and blog copy
  • social media queen to build hype and live event posting
  • videographer to record our events for posterity


If you are interested, please email hannah@hanoona.com. Our first committee meeting will be during the first week of April.

Cool Women, Hot Jobs for the G.L.O.W.

 

If you ask a middle school girl from an underprivileged area of town what she wants to be when she grows up, you'll hear three answers: a teacher, a cook, or a nurse.  This is because those are the only jobs that she has seen in her world.  When she goes to school, she'll see a teacher.  When she goes home, someone is cooking to feed the family.  When she gets sick, she sees the school nurse.

This troubling trend of limited choices has been witnessed by Laura Hunter who is the principal for the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington or G.L.O.W.  

GLOW is an all girls public charter school aimed at helping underprivileged girls.  It was co-founded by Judy Girard a former president of HGTV and Food Network.  The GLOW mission is to not only to have every student graduate, but to also ensure each young woman gets into college with the financial aid she needs.  

To open the world of possible career paths and college choices to the GLOW girls, the Learning Circle themed "Cool Women, Hot Jobs" was created.

2016 Inaugural class of WILMA Leadership Initiative (photo c/o WILMA) 

2016 Inaugural class of WILMA Leadership Initiative (photo c/o WILMA) 

Planned by WILMA Leadership Initiative class of 2016 as their graduation gift to Wilmington, this Learning Circle will welcome about 100 girls to tekMountain.  The girls will be divided into eight groups to cycle through each of the eight station.  These stations are manned by members of the WILMA Leadership Initiative, the Fort Fisher Aquarium and Cape Fear Women in Tech.  Each station will feature a guided activity that helps explain some of the job responsibilities of the ladies.

Cape Fear Women in Tech is happy to represent our area of the industry and help to broaden horizons!

To find out more about GLOW, click here to visit their website.

UPDATE 5/17/2016:

Here are some photos from the event.  Special thanks to Ashlye Hernandez & Kelly Havilland from the CFWIT Community Outreach Committee, and Kimberly Griffiths for representing Cape Fear Women in Tech at this event.

WILMA Features a Few of our Own

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Congratulations to our ladies Sarah RitterMandy Curtin and Julie Thomas on being featured in an article in WILMA magazine.

Sarah Ritter was also just accepted into Upsilon Pi Epsilon which is the Honor Society for Computing and Information Discipline

Mandy of NextGlass, was in September's Career Development Panel.

Julie of DocsInk was in October's fireside chat that was moderated by Ann Revell-Pechar.

We're so proud of all of your accomplishments!

12 Questions with Sandy Howe About Her Personal Branding and Career

Cape Fear Women in Tech board members Hannah Wilson, Audrey Speicher, and Emilyanne Atkinson asked soon-to-be Cape Fear Women in Tech event speaker Sandy Howe twelve questions about her personal branding and career. Sandy's event will be on January 26th, 2016.

 
Sandy Howe Interview with Cape Fear Women in Tech
 

Hannah Wilson: How do you describe your personal style?

Sandy Howe: My personal style is very collaborative, whether it's work getting customers - it's what their needs are, working with my own team - listening to all the different ideas to figure out the best solution, and working with all the different stakeholders both inside and outside of my company. The more you understand what everybody needs, you understand the direction the company wants to grow. It really allows you to set up for a win-win with a collaborative approach.

 

HW: Have you ever had to update or change your branding to get where you wanted to go?

SH: I don't think I've ever had to update my brand, but in my career it took me time to learn and really understand what my brand was. There was definitely a time when I didn't know. Fortunately I had created the brand, but I didn't even know I had created it. The awareness of your personal brand is something that can help you.

 

HW: And your personal brand is collaboration and teamwork?

SH: Yes, and bringing people together and figuring out the right solutions. And actually, my personal brand is that I'm really known for getting things done. My real personal brand is when I listen to customers and what they were saying. They always said that I had a list, and if I put on the list what they needed to accomplish, it always got done. And I got it done by collaborating and working both internally within my company as well as externally. So everyone knows me with a list, and I always have a list. And I don't look at the list, I know what's on it, and the list makes me get it done.

 

HW: Do you think that personal branding affects women more than men?

SH: It's important for women to know their brand. At first it was something that was difficult for me to figure it out myself for my career. Maybe men know it more, but I would still challenge that they probably are in the same position - not everyone knows that they have a brand or know the importance of it.

 

HW: Who has influenced you the most in your career?

SH: I've been very fortunate. I've never had a formal mentor in my career, but I've had a lot of great coaching in my career. Customers, past bosses, past executives from a different company where I worked, my family. They have mentored me more than they realize. I have been very open to receiving feedback from people that I really value and admire, and they've been wonderful in sharing that. When you get that feedback, you make a change, and when the person coaching you sees you make that change, they keep giving.

 

HW: Do you have an example of a time when they helped guide your career?

SH: I had a boss, we're really great friends now, who actually kept pushing me to take new jobs. At this point I worked in a company, but I was changing jobs every 18 or 24 months. One key thing that women need to do more of is to be fearless and take risks. It was extremely rewarding, because I then realized I still had an ability in taking new thoughts, new challenges, new roles in the company, and succeeding and helping the company grow.

 

HW: In personal branding in your career, when is breaking the rules ok?

SH: I think it's important for you to be authentic, so your brand has to be authentic. If you like to wear pink, and you wear pink every day, don't stop wearing pink, because pink is your color. My thing, and everybody knows this, is that I love jewelry. I always think about accessorizing, and I won't stop wearing scarves and jewelry because that's what I like. Don't loose what's authentic to you.

 

HW: Where do you find inspiration?

SH: Inspiration can be found in so many places. I really find a lot of inspiration by people who give back into the community. I really admire them and want to give back, because you have to help more people to advance and do better, especially when you have opportunities of your own. It's very inspiring to see people give a lot of their time, especially if they don't have a lot of time. 

 

HW: Is there someone in particular who you've seen that from recently?

SH: Here in Wilmington, one of the things that I think is so unique, is what the restaurant Circa 1922 does around town. They give people food on Thanksgiving. Living downtown, I can see people walk 20 blocks to get there for their Thanksgiving meal. There's no publicity around any of it, and it could be a great publicity for them. It's very inspirational because there are so many people who need help.

 

HW: What is some advice you have for women in a non-technical job who would like to move into a technical career?

SH: Don't be afraid to take the risk. There are so many opportunities in technology. Marketing, which is what I'm in, is a perfect place to come in and learn the technology. Someone in technology is always constantly learning. Once you learn the foundation, you will have to study like everyone else in technology, because technology changes so quickly. Every engineer I know will tell you that they're reading and studying and researching. If you like to learn, technology is a great place to be.

 

HW: What advice do you have for women who are currently in technology for them to grow their career?

SH: It's about taking risks and learning something new. I believe the greatest opportunities are in new technology product solutions. Take the risk and break out into something new.

 

HW: What are some of your favorite business books you would recommend?

SH: One of my favorite books for women, that I think has a lot of great advice, is Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office.

Something I think that's important for women is a book on Fierce Conversations. It's about the conversations you need to have throughout your career as a manager, or even as an employee.

The last book that I really enjoy is The First 90 Days. It's a book that I go to every time I change jobs, because it identifies what your job is, and what your role is and what you need to do to be successful. 


Make sure to RSVP for Sandy's event and share it with your friends!

A World of Intrigue: Cape Fear Women in Tech

By Ellen Long

 

The room was abuzz with a type of nervous excitement. A group of women from the farthest corners of the Wilmington business community had joined together to be apart of something new, a different kind of Wilma initiative.

The moment I entered the room I realized I had stepped into a world I knew existed, but had never seen gathered in one place. It was a network of courageous, intelligent women that defied the odds by living and thriving in a male dominated sphere: the world of technology.

I entered TekMountain’s impressive space with intrigue. Considering myself quite the able networker, I moved about the room to gauge the type of conversations inherent, anxious for a chance to jump in. Instead, I was left with a bemused smile for what I was witnessing.

It was unlike any networking event I had ever been to. Ladies were munching on crackers and dialoging about HTML code, database engineering, and Linux settings. Gone were the smooth pitches and business card handouts. In its place were genuine, unrehearsed and authentic offerings – some figuring out for the first time how to simplify the complex, just to explain what they did everyday!

Their fearless leaders, the graceful and poised Audrey Speicher – partnership manager at CastleBranch and a recent finalist of Wilma’s Women to Watch - and the elegant, intelligent Emilyanne Atkinson – senior database manager at CastleBranch and a member of Wilma’s elite leadership program – moved about the room to welcome new attendees and foster the collaborative spirit embodied by all members of Cape Fear Women in Tech.

But this group wasn’t about to spend the whole evening in small talk. At its core, the group comes together for strategic learning, self-development, and a collaboration that arises from mutual, intelligent connection.

Tonight, the event was moderated by PR mogul and CloudWyze Communicator Ann Revell. The topic? A fireside chat with Julie Thomas, CEO and co-founder of DocsInk, a local tech start-up. As Julie shared her successes, challenges and wisdom, the ladies laughed and fired questions, eager for knowledge and courage to chase their own dreams. By its finale, CFWIT members were left with solid advice for their own entrepreneur path, and an extra shot of energy to fuel their creative spirits.

So to all the Wilmington women interested in the technological sphere, I urge you to become a part of something new, something different. I promise you will not find a more interesting, welcoming group of women that challenge and encourage one another to be better than their yesterday selves.

Don’t miss the next event! We’ll offer FREE website coding instruction during the Cucalorus event on Tuesday, November 10th, Union Station from 4-6pm. All female beginners welcome!  See you then!

Cucalorus is coming! Cucalorus is coming! ...What the heck is a Cucalorus?

In simple terms, Cucalorus is Wilmington's version of South by Southwest.  It started out as a film festival, but it has expanded to include panels, speakers and workshops on emerging tech and entrepreneurship.  

Here are some highlights of people that will be featured under this "Connect" expansion. 

 

Your very own CFWIT has teamed up with Tech Talent South to provide a free coding workshop for ladies.  Please pass this information along to your friends!

Also, you can get a sneak peak of CFWIT's January speaker.  Our most recent guest speaker, Julie Thomas, and our speaker for January,  Sandy Howe, are going to be featured on the same panel

So if you're interested in these events, please come participate to make this year's Cucalorus festival a success!

Career Panel Follow Up - A Remote Working Perspective

I feel so grateful to have been invited to participate in September's CFWIT Career Panel alongside accomplished women from our community. While the feedback we received indicated that many of you found this event to be educational, fun, and motivating, I want to make sure that you know that it was all of those things and more from the other side of the table as well! I am truly inspired by the high caliber of women in Wilmington's tech community - their work ethic, their stories, and their vision.