Reflections from Seattle’s 2nd Annual Women in Tech Regatta

Sunni Campbell / 21st May 2018 / Comment / Culture

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This year Seattle hosted the Women in Tech Regatta (WiT), featuring more than 30 events, 175 speakers and 1,000+ attendees over 5 days. The regatta was designed as a collection of workshops and conversations curated to connect women to peers, mentors and resources. The workshops included everything from understanding blockchain technology, data and ethics to the value of storytelling in business, and balancing career with parenthood.

The week-long event brought together individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some were interested in learning about and breaking into the tech field, some had worked their way up to management tech roles in large local firms and others were taking a chance to create new tech start-ups. WiT gave all attendees an opportunity to meet peers in the field, encouraging conversation at every session in order to forge new pathways to connection and creating space for potential mentorships. This year, several team members were able to attend with the encouragement and financial sponsorship from Wheelhouse.

Following are some of Wheelhouse’s favorite takeaways and highlights from WiT:

What was your favorite WiT session and why?

Amanda Ouellette
Data Analyst
I enjoyed so many of the WiT sessions! My favorite was probably “Leading from Every Chair: Multi-Dimensional Leadership.” I really appreciated the emphasis on leadership development at all career stages – you don’t need to have a management role to be a leader within your organization!

Cindy Larson
Director of People & Operations
Mine is a tie between “Leading from Every Chair” and “The Right Crew: The Secrets to a Successful Mentee/Ally Relationship”. The Mentee/Ally conversation was helpful because of the way it provided clarity for the mentor/mentee relationship. “Find a mentor/Be a mentor” is a phrase thrown around the tech scene as important for underrepresented groups to find inclusion and opportunities for advancement, but there hasn’t been a lot of clarity as to how to find one or what the relationship could look like.

Leigh Anne Cronin
Senior Paid Search Analyst
I had a lot of takeaways from the “What Would Chad Do?” session, particularly when Dyana Langley said, “Don’t qualify your questions”. This is something I never realized I was doing and the impact it could have. I’m now making a conscious effort to make sure I don’t use any qualifiers when I ask a question or add input in a meeting.

What are 2-3 key takeaways from sessions you attended at WiT?

Pilar Suter
Don’t wait, just start. Your idea is allowed to change, shift, and grow and there are projects you do because you can’t imagine your life without it.

Darla Rhodes
Digital Marketing Strategist
“True allies do their own f@*#ing research”. There was discussion about the myriad of intersections every person has, and how it is our individual responsibility to actively learn more about other intersections. The overwhelming takeaway was that every human is unique, and our thinking and consideration of others should start with that belief. It was very refreshing.

Erika Bigelow
Search Associate
Instead of waiting to be invited to the table, ask to be included.


Why was it meaningful for you to attend and/or have WH sponsor this event?

Paul Weinstein
Chief Operating Officer
I identify as privileged, extremely privileged. While I’ve long seen myself as an ally to women, I’ve largely been on the sidelines – not part of the problem, but also not part of the solution. As our company embarked on our journey to improve diversity and inclusion, I learned that it was up to me to educate myself on the issue, rather than relying on the marginalized to teach me. I realized that with all the privilege and power that I have, comes a greater responsibility to act. To make change. To be part of the solution. WiT was an excellent platform to spark conversation on the topic of diversity and inclusion.

Cindy: Attending the WiT Regatta and connecting with other ambitious women from all walks of life brought a refreshing perspective and encouragement to the conversations we’re having at Wheelhouse and to me personally. I’m thankful that Wheelhouse not only says they believe in diversity, but they take actions to support their statements and promote the development of people from underrepresented groups.

Amanda: I feel very grateful that Wheelhouse invests in the professional development of all employees, and particularly that leadership recognizes the importance of addressing issues like equity and diversity in tech. While conferences like WiT are a great place to start these discussions, what’s really meaningful for me is knowing that I work for an organization that is eager to continue the conversation once I return the office.

Leigh Anne: Having WH sponsor the conference helped show me how supportive our company is to both personal and cultural growth. Not only did this allow me to learn things about myself, but it also taught me new ways on how I can be an ally to other people in my company and overall.

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More than anything, attending the WiT Regatta left us feeling energized. It reinstated, and demonstrated, that an enterprise wide dedication to ally-ship, diversity and inclusion requires leaders to develop skills that ultimately lead to structural change. At Wheelhouse, we are constantly examining how we hold meetings, how we communicate in the workplace, how we connect socially within our company culture, and whether our hiring practices are truly inclusive. We make incremental changes regularly based on our reflections which inform our decisions as we grow.

I’m proud to be part of a community at Wheelhouse full of talented, smart individuals desiring to change the landscape of tech in Seattle through innovation, gender inclusion and thought leadership. The WiT Regatta helped us realign and recommit to lead from wherever we are, and to always consider and champion diverse perspectives. These goals will make us stronger as a team and eventually, stronger as a sector.

By Sunni Campbell