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Advocating for Women in Tech

Advocating for Women in Tech - Women in Tech

I first started my advocacy efforts for women in tech in 2009 by raising my hand at an IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS) steering committee meeting and requesting to learn more about the society’s Women in Microwave Engineering (WIM) efforts. After learning that prior WIM sessions were social events attended by only a handful of folks (mostly male, I was told) in a small, windowless conference room after show hours, I decided it was time to get more involved to bring a spotlight to this event and try to inspire and empower other women colleagues within the society. 

Little did I realize that my first steps into learning more about WIM back in 2009 would turn into more than a decade of advocacy that would take me around the world, making new connections in Japan, China, Israel, and India (to mention just a few) and helping to broaden WIM into the vital organization it is today. 

Flash forward to the current day, and I’ve been with Cadence now for a little more than two years. By the time I joined the company by way of a merger and acquisition, my IEEE actions were already ahead of me and had resulted in an early outreach by Cadence’s Women in Tech (WIT) affinity group to get involved. And while I’ve been spearheading our networking activities within the company for the past two years and doing anything and everything I can in a virtual way, from fun online social events, to zoom keynote presentations from our executives (e.g., president and CEO Anirudh Devgan), to webinars with inspiration and insight from noteworthy women internally as well as externally, I am looking forward to networking in person before too long. 

As this networking is vitally important for WIT, having the internal infrastructure and male allies also advocating and empowering women within Cadence is key. Cadence is the first company I’ve been employed by that is proactive with the intention to make a difference. From running unconscious bias training for all managers, to spotlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives almost monthly, to mentoring and career coaching, to having managers who actually know how to lead and inspire (women in particular)),it’s a rarity and a “wow” for me. No wonder Cadence is consistently named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. 

Being seen, heard, and listened to regularly—no mansplaining nor manterrupting—is happening at Cadence. I can only attribute this amazing reality to the fact that empowering and inspiring women is more than just words, it is lived. Managers actively practice, improve upon, and embrace DEI. I feel fortunate that in my two-ish years at Cadence, I have had several higher-up male colleagues who stood out from the others in ensuring I was invited to meetings (inclusion), heard from (incorporated), and valued as part of the organization and process (invested). 

Perhaps, in a future post, I’ll write more on the “Good Guys” and the positive impact it is having for WIT, WIM, and WIE (pick your preferred acronym), but for now, let me just say that having a network of both men and women supporters to be part of your community that inspires, encourages, and admires you is critical. 

Whether it is external or internal energies being applied for more women in tech, one thing that’s been common throughout my WIM advocacy and now WIT advocacy is that we (the community of women) value sharing experiences. Through community and conversations, we quickly find ourselves brainstorming and collaborating on ways to encourage more women into tech, keep women in tech, and advance women in tech. 

By being seen and heard by all in the room, both men and women, we are moving the conversations forward. And, as part of this vital community, we are finding that even though we may be far outnumbered by our male counterparts in our individual companies or academic institutions, through our shared advocacy efforts, there is comfort reassurance in numbers. In this community, we are not alone, we can support each other, and sometimes we can even laugh at experiences that weren’t very funny at the time. 

I look forward to continuing my efforts to raise awareness and encourage discussions that empower women in tech both inside of Cadence and in the community at large. To support one another, to feel connected to one another, and to make a difference in our workplace and industry, are the goals—we all need to feel valued and that our contributions matter. Including a broad range of people in business discussions and decisions and encouraging diversity of ideas is good for all of us. Believe in yourself and inspire others to believe in themselves, because together we can make a difference and succeed.

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    SWE Blog

    SWE Blog provides up-to-date information and news about the Society and how our members are making a difference every day. You’ll find stories about SWE members, engineering, technology, and other STEM-related topics.

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    Sherry Hess

    Sherry Hess is Product Marketing Group Director at Cadence. She brings more than 20 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and business management from National Instruments, AWR Corporation, Ansoft Corporation (now Ansys Inc) and Intel Corporation.In addition to her responsibilities at Cadence, Sherry has long been involved in supporting and promoting the IEEE MTT-S Women in Microwaves (WIM) and Women in Engineering (WIE) organizations. She currently serves as WIM Chair and is an elected IEEE Administrative Committee member. She regularly contributes blogs and articles focused on women in business issues.Sherry holds BSEE and MSIA (technical MBA) degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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