Phenomenal Women: Reflection, Action, and Connection — Event Recap

On Wednesday March 8, 2017, a group of 25 women attended the event Phenomenal Women: Reflection, Action, and Connection at Galvanize in San Francisco to celebrate International Women’s Day. In light of recent domestic and international political events, event organizer, Malika Mehrotra was inspired to bring women together to share their perspectives, forge new relationships and discuss the next steps towards collectively advancing women in business.

The event name was inspired by this t-shirt campaign for Phenomenal Women that benefits for Emerge America, EMILY’s List, Essie Justice Group, Girls Who Code, NARAL, Planned Parenthood and The United State of Women.

’Cause I’m a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That’s me.
- Maya Angelou

The speakers for the evening were:

Shira Albagli: Communications Manager at The Representation Project

Angelina Cardona: Senior Human Capital Consultant at Deloitte

Kat Li: Head of Product at Digit.co

Bruna Maia: People and Culture Director at Galvanize

Each of the speakers brought their own story of challenges they’ve encountered and the solutions they’ve developed in order to forge ahead in their careers and lives.

The conversation topics ranged from mentorship to women empowerment to the perception of women in the media. The focus was on sharing ideas of everyday actions we can take to support other women.

Shira spoke to her creation of the #AskHerMore campaign with The Representation Project. This campaign pushes media to move away from asking female celebrities superficial questions and instead, provide women with a platform to demonstrate their intelligence & depth by asking them deeper, more thoughtful questions. Too often women are only prompted to share the name of their outfit designer instead of about how they prepared for their role and what they’re passionate about.

One attendee shared her experience around feeling that she was not contributing to her company in a significant way. She decided to have an open conversation with her manager about her perceptions of her work. To her surprise, she received positive feedback and realized that she did not have to doubt herself. Self-perception plays an important role in how others perceive us — and women can naturally tend to downplay their value. Don’t fall into this trap! Make sure you’re representing your work contributions with confidence.

“Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere.”
- Gloria Steinem

Key Takeaways:

Find Mentors AND Sponsors

Mentorship is very valuable and there is definitely a high premium on finding a mentor in your field. A mentor coaches you through your challenges by offering advice on how to move forward. Sponsorship takes mentorship up another level. A sponsor is in the room with you, advocating for you, and navigating your challenges on your behalf.

Fighting Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome is a sentiment that many women share. They feel that they are “faking” it and don’t truly belong in the role they have. Take the time to really reflect on what your value is and what you want your value to be. Women deserve to have a seat at the table.

Say something in every meeting

This is a small way in which you can make your presence and value known. Don’t be shy to speak up. Whether you have to prep a few talking points before each meeting or you validate someone else’s thoughts, there are multiple ways you can contribute.

Advocate for yourself and for others

Find your voice and define it with what truly matters to you. Speak up for your values and your opinions and for others as well.

Help Younger Generations of Women

Women who are early in their careers may feel that they are not always in the ideal position to help other women — they don’t necessarily have the position or power yet. However, don’t forget that there is an entire generation of high school and middle school girls out there. Pay it forward — be the mentor you had or wish you had. Help instill that everlasting confidence in young girls so that they feel like they deserve equality and a seat at the table.

Author Malika Mehrotra is currently a Product Manager at Digit, a fin-tech startup that saves money without you having to think about it. Prior to joining Digit, Malika worked on the Hillary Clinton Campaign in NYC. Before that, she served as a Product Manager at Salesforce. She went to Stanford University and attained a B.S. in Management Science & Engr. Throughout college, she also worked at companies dedicated to women empowerment, such as The Representation Project and Goldieblox.