Diversity at MapR: “This goes beyond the gender inequalities in the workforce, we need their brains”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? In addition to the Women in Tech survey, we also launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Geneva Lake, VP of Worldwide Alliances for MapR.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Women in Tech — The Survey
We would like to get to the bottom of why gender diversity remains a challenge for the tech scene. Therefore, we invite you all to fill out our diversity survey. Share your experiences with us!
Your input will help us identify the diversity-related issues that prevent us from achieving gender equality in technology workplaces.
Without further ado, we would like to introduce Geneva Lake, VP of Worldwide Alliances for MapR
Geneva Lake, VP of Worldwide Alliances for MapR
As VP of Worldwide Alliances for MapR, Geneva is responsible for building a world-class channels and alliances network across the globe. Geneva brings to MapR over 15 years of experience in software industry sales, alliances, and marketing. She most recently served as Director of Commercial Alliances for Oracle, where she was responsible for leading Alliance Managers and their teams in the Analytics, Security, Big Data and Digital Experience solution areas. Earlier in her career at Oracle, Geneva served as Senior Manager, Alliances, where she managed Alliance Managers and had overall responsibility for co-selling revenue targets against direct opportunities, achieving a 25% year-over-year growth. Other roles at Oracle include Client Relationship Manager – Global Customer Programs, and Strategic Account Manager. She began her career as a Sales Manager for CTA, an information technology engineering firm. Geneva holds a BA degree in Business Communications and Japanese Studies from the University of California, San Diego.
What got you interested in technology?
I attended a college that focused on high-tech – Univ. of CA, San Diego. The school was unique and rather groundbreaking in that it had a Supercomputer which gave students the ability to work on the Hubble Space Program. We were also sending emails within the university back in 1991! While I attended to study international business and Japanese, I became enamored with technology’s promise for the future, and foresaw that a career in technology was going to provide fulfillment and job security!
I do not have a naturally technical mind, so technology was not necessarily an obvious choice. I’ve had to establish credibility throughout my career that although I’m not an engineer, I have a knack for applying technology to business. For me, it has been less about the technical aspects of the solutions, but more a question of what this technology could do for business. How can customers take this innovation and leverage it to increase competitive advantage and ultimately, their bottom line?
A strong support system
I’ve always had an extremely supportive family. I’m a first-generation college graduate, so the expectations have always been high. It was never a question of going to college, it was just grade 13.
In terms of mentors, I’ve had several female managers over the years that have taken me under their wing. They saw potential and gave their time and wisdom to help me achieve my goals.
Inevitable bumps in the road
It seems there are people everywhere that are content with mediocrity and are uncomfortable with high achievers. I’ve always made a point to surround myself with people that are smarter than me. It keeps me on my toes!
A day in Geneva’s life
I’m currently the global leader for the Alliances and Channels organization at MapR. Given the global nature of the roll, there is a lot of travel and odd hours. If I’m not on a plane, my workday can be long with endless phone calls, so I try to break it up and get out of the office – have lunch with a partner, spend some quality time with one of my employees, take a 20 min walk in the sun.
I’m most proud of developing the careers of others. Many of the people that have worked for me over the years and gone on to do incredible things! That makes me so happy.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
First, I believe historically it started at a very young age – maybe even at home, and certainly later in school. STEM was, for the most part, encouraged more for boys than girls. I believe today people – both educators and parents, are more aware, and are making a conscious effort to encourage STEM across the board – regardless of sex. Some are even taking it a step further and providing programs, even scholarships, specifically targeted at inspiring female interest and success in STEM.
I also believe that there needs to be more of a focus on supporting varied learning styles. Most children, many times boys and girls, differ in learning styles. Take math for example. For me, and I’m now seeing it in my daughter, that although she’s conceptually interested in math, it’s the actual application of the problem solving that she needs in order to truly understand how math applies to life. Without bridging that gap, she struggles with “getting it.” I learned math via the California public school system in the 1980’s and the teaching was memorization-based – not real life application. I have a theory that many girls (and boys for that matter) would benefit from answering “WHY am I learning this problem?”
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
When about 50% of the global population is limited in terms of being able to achieve their full potential, you sacrifice advances across-the-board, medicine, technology, and so on – essentially innovation suffers.
In terms of the impact in the US, we are still working from a limited candidate pool. The first hiring choice of US corporations is usually Americans. However, very often, companies have no choice but to import talent (or export jobs) which is expensive and inefficient. At the current pace, the projections show there is no way we’ll be able to fill the talent gap.
At MapR, we have an initiative called WE (Women’s Exchange). We are taking a proactive step to encourage women to apply to MapR. This goes beyond the gender inequalities in the workforce, we need their brains!
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
We’re already seeing the results. I’ve seen it happen multiple times. If there is a team that is entirely male and white, management has a discussion about how much better that team can be with a different point of view, a varied perspective. We’re never going to grow as a society if we don’t shake it up a little! I say this to people from all walks of life, don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable! Everyone says we need to think “outside the box.” But if we are to do that, don’t we need a lot of different types of boxes, with different perspectives, each bringing unique value to achieve the end result?
I’ve been the only woman in the room more times than I can count. High tech is still a seemingly male-dominated industry (take a look at most high tech websites’ executive team bio pages – not a lot of female faces on there). I say this, not laying blame, but rather pointing it out as simply where we seem to be today.
I actually believe there can be an unconscious bias on both sides that can raise challenges for women. For instance, there are reams of research that have demonstrated pay inequality for women in tech. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, one of the most respected CEOs and business organizations in the world, was recently interviewed on “60 Minutes.” He spoke about his belief that pay was fair and equal across his organization, and his shock when he learned that men and women were not being paid equally for equal work. He fixed the issue at his organization – it cost millions. And, just months later, when employee incomes were again audited, it had happened again – the pay gap had retuned – men were being paid more for doing the exact same job, and achieving the exact same results, as their female counterparts. During the interview, Benioff concluded that you couldn’t be a decent CEO and not be committed to gender equality – but he has had to convince, and is still working to convince, other male leaders of its importance.
Gender equality in high tech – are we there yet? Not quite. But, we are certainly making progress, as I am sure folks like Sheryl Sandberg and Meg Whitman can attest.
Tips & tricks
Although today this is a male-dominated industry, it is also an industry that admires intelligence and hard work. I have worked with some of the smartest, most interesting and disciplined people in tech – men and women. I’ve been lucky to find an industry in which I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve worked for and with. I think one of the overlooked aspects of this industry is that it attracts GREAT people.
If you admire, encourage and embody all of these things, then you’ll find your way in technology!
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- “Technology reflects the people who make it”
- “In the right company, working in tech is a great career”
- Why women fall out of the tech pipeline
- Breaking the mold: ‘It’s not that you’re good — it’s that you’re female’
- How to avoid the culture of male programmers
- Creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills
- The more women you see in STEM, the less intimidating it is for others to join
- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Tips & tricks for women
- Transitioning into a tech career? Silicon Valley culture is one of the biggest initial obstacles
- Abby Kearns: “Diversity ensures continuous innovation”
- “In technology, you become a lifelong learner — More women should embrace this career”
- Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
- Everyday superheroes: “I don’t have a role model, my career was based on my mistakes”
- Diversity talk: For tech, it’s less about a pipeline problem and more of a marketing problem
- Diversity talk: It’s important to receive support from tech communities
- Everyday superheroes: Women just need to see more of us — techie women
- Anyone who wants to learn and grow won’t continue in an industry that tells them they are stupid
- There is too much allowance for tolerating toxic people in tech
- Coding myths and how finding communities like Hear Me Code helps you learn best
- 3 strategies to try out if you want to support women in tech
- Young women carry less career gender bias and more media influence
- Women are often pigeonholed into “soft skill” roles and pushed away from engineering
- Diversity talk: Many women suffer from the impostor syndrome
- How to succeed in tech: Shutterstock’s Rashi Khurana gives her tips
- Diversity talk: Using lingo is making tech sound harder than it really is
- Diversity talk: “We can’t expect men to hand us equality on a silver platter”
- How to succeed in tech: Agnès Crepet gives her tips
- “Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
- “Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”
- “Diverse teams can help prevent unhealthy competition that occurs sometimes in male-dominated teams”
- How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips
- “As the tech field becomes cloud-based, the flexibility and remote work culture will grow”
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from Atlassian’s Molly Hellerman
- Diversity talk: “Women should not be herded into a career to meet quotas”
- “The tech industry can move even faster by increasing the diversity of talent”
- Diversity talk: Even if your team is not very diverse, what matters is that they value you
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Always be curious
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from GitLab’s Barbie Brewer
- Diversity talk: Tips from Lisk’s Gina Contrino on how to succeed in tech
- “The combination of tech IQ and people EQ can set you apart in the tech world”
- “Mentorship, acceptance, and trust are really important in fostering gender diversity in the workplace”
- The tech industry is not solely responsible for pushing gender diversity
- “There isn’t enough clarity on what it means to work in tech and to be a woman in tech”
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Become comfortable with change
- Diversity in the AI world & how imposter syndrome is vital!
- “Even if women decide to work as developers because they are passionate and qualified, they are sometimes treated like diversity hires”
- “We need fewer WiT luncheons and more women coding & deploying projects side by side with men”