'How I learned to make myself heard'
After finding herself censored for speaking up in meetings, Dr. Kelley Mullick realised she had to find a way to make her voice heard.
Women bring a unique perspective to the tech and telecommunications industries. Our ability to approach projects from both a detailed and big picture perspective is an asset. This dual focus allows us to consider various angles and contribute to well-rounded solutions. Furthermore, we tend to be more collaborative, fostering diverse thinking within teams, which, research shows, leads to higher-performing teams and better business outcomes.
Despite this, statistics show there are still only roughly 20% of women in engineering, and as low as 10% in some disciplines, so this is a huge challenge for the industry. Like many women in this field, I have encountered a variety of challenges. The tech world, as we all know, has traditionally been male-dominated, and this can pose unique obstacles for women trying to self-advocate and secure mentorships.
Assertiveness is often perceived differently for women than for men, so it's crucial to find effective ways to self-advocate. Far too often, as a young female engineer, I found myself in the unenviable position of not having my voice heard. I’m not someone who's afraid to speak up in a meeting or in a role, but there have been times when I was censored for speaking up and sharing my perspective during a meeting. That goes against everything I was taught and believed in, so I had to quickly figure out a way to make my voice heard.
I began collaborating with senior managers before meetings to ensure I had advocates in my corner. Before presenting my ideas, I would also engage with colleagues to align our perspective.
Finding your allies in stakeholders
To address this, I learned the importance of stakeholder management. I began collaborating with senior managers before meetings to ensure I had advocates in my corner. Before presenting my ideas, I would also engage with colleagues to align our perspectives, creating a smoother path for decision-making. Empathetic listening also became a vital tool for me, enabling me to truly understand others' perspectives and communicate more effectively.
Getting more women, minorities, and underrepresented groups into engineering has long been a passion of mine. Making the work environment more inclusive is key to creating mentorship opportunities for women at all stages of their career. Through my personal experience, I’ve found outreach and community-building to play a vital role in this endeavour.
While these events provide invaluable opportunities for connection for today’s female engineers, there is still much work to be done. Ultimately, this lies in expanding the pipeline of female candidates entering the workforce. It starts with early education programs that identify and nurture talent in diverse backgrounds to help build a robust pipeline of future engineers. Only when our graduates surpass the current 20% representation can we expect significant progress.
It continues with our hiring practices. When I interview for a position, I always ensure I have a diverse pool of candidates for any role I am hiring for. Bringing a wide variety of voices and experiences into the funnel is the best way to guarantee a diverse workforce.
Looking ahead, diversity and inclusion programmes are critically important. Despite challenges and controversies, research consistently demonstrates that gender equity and inclusion contribute to business success. I'm optimistic that these programs will continue to evolve and thrive, ultimately leading to a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.
My own journey in the tech industry has been both challenging and rewarding. Women in this field face unique obstacles, but with determination, collaboration, and a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion, we can pave the way for future generations of women engineers. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the industry and drive positive change for all.