Empowerment through mentorship: Girls In Tech
Pictured from left to right: Shannon Judd, director of public sector system integrator partner sales at Amazon Web Services (AWS); Laura Williams, deputy director at the Office of Bilateral Affairs in the US Department of State; Samantha Abrams, chief strategy officer at Halcyon; Susan Wedge, managing partner of U.S. public and federal market at IBM; and Dominic Delmolino, vice president of worldwide public sector technology and innovation at AWS.
In 2021, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced global support for Girls in Tech, a nonprofit founded in 2007 dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech. Girls in Tech provides training, workshops, resources, and networking opportunities to women looking to enter the tech workforce, make career changes, or re-enter the workforce after taking time off. AWS has been working alongside Girls In Tech to make lasting change and empower the under-represented population in tech: women.
Recently, AWS and Girls In Tech hosted an Evening with Experts event at Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, VA. The in-person event provided an opportunity for women in the local area to hear from public sector and public service technology experts on professional growth opportunities and partnerships to reshape the industry to be more equitable.
“Women have been in technology for decades, making huge impacts globally,” said Lakshmi Ashok, vice president of enterprise management at Leidos, while speaking at the Evening with Experts event. “I believe that we can be successful in our career journeys when we embrace and exhibit traits such as having confidence and curiosity, a passion for the mission, and most importantly, a personal advisory board of mentors who can help us see clearly our hopes and goals,” Ashok added.
AWS has supported Girls in Tech over the last four years, primarily sponsoring the Girls in Tech conferences, hackathons, digital career fairs, and a joint mentorship program. This year, more than 100 AWS staff are volunteering to mentor applicants through Girls In Tech, creating a positive change in the lives of many.
“We need to drive toward a level playing field where women have more options to choose their career paths, are paid fairly, and receive equal opportunities for growth and advancement,” said Max Peterson, vice president of worldwide public sector at AWS. “Broadening access to all individuals and helping drive innovation with the cloud is core to our principles and values at AWS,” said Peterson.
Mentors and mentees on the impact of the AWS – Girls In Tech mentorship program
“During the pandemic, I had the chance to reflect on my career. Then, I came across Girls In Tech and signed up to be a mentee immediately. As a mentee, I was paired up with Ange Krueger from AWS and we met regularly. The mentorship program helped me rediscover my identity as a global citizen. Originally from Mexico, I am working in the UK, and meeting with a mentor in the US. The most tangible outcome of the program for me was to gain confidence about my career and inspiration from my mentor, Ange, to give back to others. From Ange, I also learned the importance of networking while working remotely. She opened my eyes to new and different ways to connect with people during the pandemic.”
– Roxana Reds, mentee and business strategist at Twinkl
“I’m from a rural community. My high school counselor suggested that I go to a vocational school and do nails, in spite of the scholarships and admissions offers from multiple universities. I didn’t realize until many years later just how marginalizing this interaction could have been. I wish I had access to Girls In Tech program back then! As women, we all probably have encountered some amazing obstacles. We can help each other overcome an obstacle and take our talent to the real world. Through this program, I saw my mentee Roxana Reds being empowered and getting excited about the next steps in her career. This was the best reward for me as a mentor.”
– Ange Krueger, mentor and senior customer solutions manager at AWS
“I’m in the third base of my career now. Having worked in business consulting and government, I’m most interested in the intersection of public and private sectors to solve big problems. I co-founded a startup and needed help, so I found my way to Girls In Tech as a mentee. Through this program, I want to be more rigorous about ‘the startup fail point’ to be able to identify when to cut off and transition to the right path for me.”
– Karlin Younger, mentee and co-founder at FireFlyht
The virtuous cycle of mentorship
A mentoring relationship frequently becomes a virtuous cycle: the more you give, the more you grow and learn new things yourself. This virtuous cycle continues to build and supports a culture of empowerment in the tech landscape.
“I’ve had a really great mentors over the past few years. I currently have an amazing mentor at AWS, too. Even the best CEOs of the world have mentors. I think mentoring and being mentored are an important component to career growth for women, especially,” said Girls In Tech mentor Ange Krueger.
Girls In Tech mentee Roxana Reds said she was inspired by her mentor and is now volunteering as a mentor for women who are starting careers in tech in Latin America. “Seeing Ange mentor me, I also wanted to give back to someone who might benefit from my experience. It’s so gratifying to see my mentees take my advice and do well,” she said.
Girls In Tech has scheduled a series of educational and networking events set to launch in 2022, with the goal of driving awareness and opportunities for women pursuing and advancing their careers in the public sector. Learn more about Girls In Tech and their initiatives.
Discover more about Amazon’s mission to help 29 million people around the world grow their tech skills with no cost cloud computing skills training by 2025.
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