In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting some of the women of Hitachi Vantara who are paving the way for future generations of female talent in tech.
In this third of a three-part series, meet Tracy Petersen. Tracy is Vice President of Global Learning at Hitachi Vantara and sponsor of the Women of Hitachi Employee Resource Group, which helps women connect and succeed in the workplace. She’s a champion for diversity and is passionate about helping young leaders build their personal foundations for success.
I caught up with Tracy to learn more about her story and hear her perspective on challenges and opportunities for women in tech.
Q1. Tell us about your career journey in technology.
I found my passion for leading teams while interning at IBM during my last year at university. My first boss at IBM made an enormous bet on a 19-year-old, making me a people manager and sending me through their 6-month new managers program. It became the foundation of my career. I managed teams in direct marketing, inside sales, customer account reps, and then finally landed in IT training which became the focus of my career.
Q2. What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in traditionally male-dominated fields such as tech, sales or finance?
Don’t let a male-dominated field be a deterrent. There are very real biases you will face in these fields but don’t let that stop you. Know going in that you will need sponsors, allies, mentors and a network.
Be intentional in working for companies that have a history of hiring and promoting women. And remember, no one will ever care as much about your career and your development as you will – so own it. Do not wait for someone else, such as your manager, to do it for you. One of the greatest skills you can acquire is the ability to learn and to learn quickly.
Q3. What do you see as the biggest challenge currently facing women in technology?
There is a disconnect between the number of women entering the technology space and the rate at which they are promoted in comparison to their male peers. This very much plays into the bias towards women doing a job before they are promoted and men being promoted on potential. Women need to advocate for themselves from the beginning.
Q4. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is Break the Bias. What does #BreaktheBias mean to you?
There is bias in every decision that we make. Stereotypes, personal experiences, culture, etc. inform our decisions. Part of breaking the bias is understanding our own bias markers and actively striving to break those biases.
Q5. What steps can people, and organizations at large, take towards creating a gender equal world?
Be intentional in diversifying your hiring practices, in eliminating bias in your promotion process, in including different voices, opinions, and experience in the decision-making process. It all begins with intentionality and holding yourself and others accountable.
Thank you, Tracy, for a fantastic interview. Your perspectives on eliminating bias and advocating for yourself in the workplace are valuable reminders for women everywhere.
In case you missed my first two interviews in the series, you can read them here:
Claire Thomas is Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Hitachi Vantara.