Microsoft had a big presence at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Among the 260 attendees from Microsoft were nine executives and 40 senior women. More than 20 people from Microsoft (both men and women) delivered inspirational presentations geared toward women, discussing the importance of women in technology. These presentations were so well-received that many of the presenters were approached to deliver them again at future conferences for women!
There was also an amazing session toward the end of the conference to connect with Microsoft executives. In this session, each of the executives talked about what they learned at Grace Hopper this year and what their personal goals and commitments are for the future. Then everyone broke out into small groups to dive deeper. The women who attended this event shared that they walked away feeling excited and truly inspired.
I was at the conference, and after I got home, all I could think was “Wow! This is such an exciting time to be a woman in technology!” I work at Microsoft, so I know the company empowers and advocates for women, but I’m not sure I knew just how much. I want to make sure YOU know, so here’s a behind-the-scenes look at just some of the opportunities and resources available to women here.
Microsoft has several internal programs in place to help women effectively manage and advance their careers. One example is the Women’s Career Framework, which helps us avoid common pitfalls and focus on ways to move forward. The basis for this framework is a McKinsey Women Matter research report. The report outlines the top three barriers to career progression for women:
- Double-burden syndrome (women balancing work and personal responsibilities);
- Anytime, anywhere performance model (a work model requiring unfailing availability and geographical mobility at all times);
- The tendency of many women to not promote themselves.
This framework addresses and helps women overcome those barriers.
Microsoft is committed to hiring, retaining and supporting technical women through connections to strong female leaders within the company. As of June 30, 2013, Microsoft employs nearly 23,800 women who make up about 24% of our workforce. Four of these women are in top leadership roles that report directly to the CEO. Yes, 29% of top leadership at Microsoft is female!
This is well above the national average. Despite a sense of progress, the data indicates stagnation. According to Newsweek, when you look at leadership positions, women max out at about 16%, across a spectrum of sectors from higher ed to Hollywood. Similarly, Catalyst, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for business women, noted that on the 2012 Fortune 500 list, only 14.3 % of U.S. women in business are executive officers.
Microsoft offers women the opportunity to make a huge impact on the world by developing the devices and services that billions of people and millions of businesses use every day. We need women to bring their diverse viewpoints to create innovative solutions that entertain, inspire and help solve the world’s biggest problems.
Another recent Grace Hopper article: Grace Hopper 2013: Think big, drive forward – This powerful event brings together women from around the world to network – and land jobs
For more insight about The Athena Doctrine, read the related blog story: Three reasons why we need more women in technology – How Microsoft empowers women