Hi! Welcome to our Blog. Launched2Lead is a women-founded, professional development organization that guides young women through their first few years as professionals in STEM fields. We want to empower, to enrich, and to encourage women to become leaders in their chosen field. Our blog will be a place for you to connect with us through research, discussion, and the sharing of all of our stories. We will review articles about current workforce issues, spotlight women in STEM, and ultimately provide a safe, relatable, and reliable community of women in STEM. But, before we jump in, we want to give you a bit more insight into who we are. We all know there are a lack of women leaders in STEM fields. We know about gender pay gaps, unconscious bias against women, and the plethora of obstacles that women face in the workforce simply because they are women. But… So, What? What are we going to do about it?
Our Founder and President, Anne Hungate, wants to share her story with you:
“Ready to conquer the world — climb the ladder of success, be challenged with important problems, grow strong bonds with peers, and be appreciated for what I contributed at work, I entered the workforce in the summer of 1990, 21 years old and green as green could be.
The first couple of years were amazing… I went through a fantastic technology and professional training program where I learned how to deliver software solutions and manage my client-facing persona.
What I didn’t realize was I was making a series of micro-mistakes that would stall my personal and career growth.
- I chose perfection over context.
- I chose delivery over networking.
- I chose to go it alone.
- I chose to take on the burdens of others.
- I drank the Kool-Aid without reading the label.
Don’t get me wrong- some of these choices lead me to small successes. They helped me learn how to deliver technology solutions, which was my job, but they did not teach me how to advocate for myself, my clients, or my team members. They did not teach me how to be a leader. A great leader in technology must do more than deliver technology solutions. They must know why they are delivering, what matters most, and how to manage the ecosystem they work in.
Lesson 1: Choose context over perfection.
On my first project, I was helping a colleague finish his work and hit our 2 PM deadline. I chose to pass up lunch with my partner to help my colleague meet his commitment. You can imagine my shock when my colleague got up and went to lunch with the partner– leaving me behind to do his work.
Instead of taking that shock and turning it into a lesson learned – that the deadline was not hard and fast and that the partner’s context and perspective on the client was more important than a 2 PM code merge (which could just as easily have happened at 4 PM) – I chose indignation. Indignation plays out well in college, but not in the workplace.
Lesson 2: Networking is every bit as important as delivery
Too many late nights and early mornings developing, testing, and implementing high-quality software meant I did not have the energy or time to meet other people working in the space. Because I didn’t meet them, I didn’t know what kind of work they were doing, how they were solving problems, and what tools were useful. I wasn’t learning about my organization’s ecosystem. More importantly, I missed the opportunity to develop friendships.
Lesson 3: Don’t go it alone.
In the summer of 1990, I dedicated a three-day weekend to learning the mechanics of a purchase order process in a multi-vendor system. My friends went white water rafting. I stayed in my apartment and read articles and a textbook — then built a flow chart. My roommate came home with laughs and stories… I had missed out, completely.
Upon returning to work, I shared with another young professional what I had done — he said, “I could have taught you everything in half an hour… you just had to ask.”
Lesson 4: Don’t be the martyr
In college, the grade mattered … so I picked up the slack for group project members who did not bring their contribution to the table. That was a great method for getting A’s… but in the workplace, that translated to early burnout. The fatigue and a good friend helped me learn that I could not take on the burdens of others, and that letting each team member contribute their best generated the best result. Being the smartest or most important person only breeds contempt…
Lesson 5: Read the label before you drink the Kool-Aid
I’ve read article after article about women in technology who have been all in – until they experienced harassment in the workplace. I’ve experienced this myself, too. This is a typical choice for high-performing women. We are rewarded for following the rules in school. Those rules don’t always translate to what is best for us.
Learn what your organization stands for, ask tough questions, reserve the capacity to learn… before you start to climb the ladder, make sure you like where it is placed. If you don’t, it is okay to switch ladders… or build your own.
I wish I would have had someone to guide me, encourage me, empower me, and listen to me as I made these mistakes. I wish I would have had a boss or leader in my organization who had walked in my shoes, who could understand me. I wish I would have had a community of women in my corner through my triumphs and my tribulations as a growing professional. That is the “So, What?” of Launched2Lead. We are building community. We are shifting the culture of leadership in STEM. We are supporting and standing beside our women counterparts, colleagues, and friends.”