BossChix Network 31 Day Challenge

Join us for our first 31 day challenge. This month we are focused on taking one action each day that will help us in our professional journey – whether you are an entrepreneur, an accountant, a corporate executive, or a teacher, this challenge is for you. We will be sharing one challenge each day and we’d love to hear from you on how it’s going and what breakthroughs you achieve.

 

4 STEM Programs for Young Women – How BossChix are Made

 

We have all read the statistics about the gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in tech companies. And if I were to say the word web developer or coder, you might automatically think of a man sitting behind a computer as opposed to a woman.  canstockphoto5278196

The numbers don’t lie, in the workplace, women make up half of the college educated workforce, but hold less than 30% of the jobs in science and engineering. If we analyze the data further by ethnic group, the numbers are even more disparateMinority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers”.  Tech jobs are among the fastest growing in the US economy, but women are somehow not equally present in these fields?? How does that happen? How does it make sense?

 

How does this gap come about? The journal Science recently produced a study that shows that girls as young as 6 years old don’t believe that someone of their own gender is really really smart. This study may suggest that efforts to encourage and motivate girls about their intellectual abilities is something that parents, caretakers, and members of the village need to tackle deliberately.  We need to actively point girls towards and pique their interest in science, engineering, and math.  What has been happening though is quite the opposite.  Some women have suggested that academic profiling has kept them from pursuing advanced science and math courses in schools. Many have said that educators told them they did not belong in advanced math or science courses because the content would not be easy. This is a startling message to send to young women—if we make assumptions about who belongs in advanced math and science courses, aren’t we also making assumptions about who can become a professional in a STEM field?

 

I recently saw the movie, Hidden Figures which recounts the story of Katherine Johnson’s extraordinary ability in math and ultimately the calculations that would land Neil Armstrong on the moon.  Her contributions to the historical voyage to the moon would not have been possible were it not for her own curiosity and I’m sure the support and nurturing of her curiosity by her parents and teachers. 

The film reveals Johnson and other African-American women’s ability to fight against sexism and racism in their country and the workplace to make strong contributions to society.  And almost 50 years after Johnson helped Armstrong land on the moon, women are still working hard to gain their footing in STEM fields.canstockphoto4655907

 

I have an 8 year old niece that is in love with learning and has already told me that she wants to be a singer and dancer.  And I want her to excel at whatever she chooses to do.  However, a part of me wants to at least try to cultivate some interest in science and math in her. In my search to inspire her as well as inform myself, I’ve learned that there are several STEM camps and resources specifically intended to encourage, teach, and create a network for young girls.   

 

 There are quite a few programs that cater to little girls and nurturing their talents and interest in science and math.  It’s a little early to be thinking about summer camps and programs, but this gives you a head start and an opportunity to determine which program is best for your daughter.

  1. Girls Who Code

    This program was started in 2012 by Reshma Saujani to close the gender gap in technology.  Over 10,000 girls in 42 states have gone through this program and several tech companies like Google, Facebook host chapters at their company headquarters. 

    Girls Who Code has 2 programs – an after school program for girls from 6th-12th grade.  The after school program is hosted at local schools throughout the school year.  To learn more about clubs in your area, click here.

    The second program is a Summer Immersion program for 10th and 11th grade girls.  The Summer Immersion Program is a free 7 week program in several US cities.  Click here for the application. 

    Application deadline: March 17th

    The Girls Who Code program boasts that 65% of their club participants are considering a degree in Computer Science, a direct result of their involvement in the program.  And that number increases to 93% for those that participate in the Summer Immersion Program. 

  2. National Society of Black Engineers – SEEK Program

    In 2007, the Battelle Memorial Institute gave  the National Society of Black Engineers a founding grant that enabled them to launch the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) program.  

    SEEK is a 3 week program for 3rd through 12th grade, designed to expose African American students to STEM courses.  NSBE’s SEEK program curriculum exposes students to projects in the areas of Solar Car, Wind Turbine, Fuel Cell, and Fragrance, among others.  NSBE can boast that students attending their program experienced significant growth in their vocabulary related to engineering and 80% of the students in the program expressed a greater interest in engineering.   

    SEEK is a co-ed day program, but they do have 2 all-girls sessions this coming summer in Atlanta, GA and Jackson, MS.  For more information about SEEK, click here.  Hurry, registration has already started for this competitive program.

     

  3. iDTech – Alexa Café

    Founded in the heart of Silicon Valley, iDTech has been empowering, teaching, and encouraging future coders, game designers, and engineers since 1999.  While iDTech is a co-ed summer camp program, Alexa Café was founded to cater to specific needs of young girls ages 10-15. 

    The Alexa Café track offers courses in coding, animation modeling, and cybersecurity.  In this program, each course has no more than an 8:1 ratio of students to instructor.  Parents have the option of enrolling their daughter in the day camp option or the overnight camp option.  To learn more about iDTech – Alexa Café, click here.

     

  4. Techbridge

    Techbridge’s mission is to inspire girls to learn about and love science, technology, engineering, and math through hands-on learning, to empower the next generation of innovators and technology leaders.  The great thing about Techbridge is that while they are focused on providing support to girls as they reach for STEM careers, they also work with families and teachers providing resources that can be used for research opportunities, discussion prompts for conversations with girls, and role model training. 

     

    Currently Techbridge’s afterschool programs are offered in Washington DC, Seattle, WA, Oakland, CA, and San Jose, CA.  This program has touched more than 600 girls in the 30 schools it supports with educational projects focused on real-world applications.

    Techbridge’s summer program is open to girls who have participated in the afterschool program.  If you are in one of these areas and would like more information on their programs, click here. 

If your little princess is too young for these programs, please look into these toys and begin to spark her interest now!

  • For your pre-school girl Fisher-Price has designed the Think and Learn Code-a-pillar. She will learn some entry-level programming by arranging the Code-a-Pillar parts in the correct order to get him moving.  Ages 3 and above.

  • Roominate – think of it as Legos for girls but with circuits and motors that light up the houses and objects they build. Roominate was created by 2 girlfriends in the master’s engineering program at Stanford and was featured on Shark Tank.  Ages 6 to 12.

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What do you think about STEM programs for young women? Should girls organically cultivate an interest in whatever they want? Why is it a good idea to introduce young girls to careers in STEM?

Workplace Fashion – Keep It Corporate and Cute

When Miraque Hicks graduated from college two years ago, she immediately began her career and knew she’d be successful. After all, Hicks was a hard worker and she was ambitious–two important qualities to possess as a young woman entering the workforce. Hicks’ diligence and ambition were key aspects of her personal brand–she knew that in order to be successful, she’d have to network, find a mentor and work well with others. Workplace fashion was right at the top of her of concerns.

What troubled her most? Making the transition from jeans and sneakers to building an office wardrobe that would match her career goals and the skills she was learning everyday.

“It was hard at first to find clothes that made me feel like me but were still business appropriate,” she said. “It was a real culture shock.” In time, Hicks learned how to build a wardrobe that spoke to her personal style and did not cost too much money. Today, she works in a less traditional corporate setting yet she still refuses to dress too casually.

“People form impressions based on the way you look,” Hicks said. “It’s all about perception. I don’t want anyone to presume that I work in any other department but the one I work in.”

Building a professional wardrobe is a vital aspect to cultivating a personal brand. But what does this professional wardrobe look like? How is it helping women to develop their personal, professional brand? A survey conducted by London-based Bute Coaching in 2011 found that 45 percent of people don’t even think about their personal brand and its relationship to building a successful career. That’s a startling statistic as many women need to constantly think about the image they are projecting as they attempt to climb the corporate ladder, move up the ranks in educational settings or become artistic directors in creative spaces.

Washington D.C.- based career coach Patrice Washington agrees. “You should always be thinking of your long-term goals,” Washington said. “Always show up dressed and ready so if someone says ‘I can’t make this meeting, can you go for me?’ The benefit of always standing out is that you always get the opportunity. And filling in for the right people at the right time can change your life.”

And for women–whether they are just beginning their careers or are seasoned professionals–having a signature professional brand does include being cognizant of appropriate work attire.

Building Your Professional Brand While Starting Your Career

Several months ago grade school teacher Patrice Brown, found herself in the middle of an internet controversy. The young woman had a great figure but were bodycon dresses and skin-tight jeans appropriate for the classroom? While many believed that Brown’s wardrobe was fine for the workplace, others argued that she was not setting a good example for young people through her attire. What is reasonable and accepted for your social interactions can create questions about professional maturity with another audience.

“Don’t just think about your audience,” says Washington. “Consider them but consider others. You could have long-term aspirations and you don’t even know who is connected to someone who could move you along.” In other words, keep it trendy and sophisticated, but leave the bodycon dresses for the club.

Work Dresses - workplace fashion

Work Dresses by bosschixnetwork

 

If you show up wearing super high heels and super short skirts, it’s guaranteed that you’ll raise eyebrows and even get a few side eyes from coworkers. Yes, you might turn a few heads, but you probably also won’t be the first up for promotion. What’s worse is you might not even be taken seriously for the work that you’re able to produce.

“No blazers over bodycon dresses,” says Washington. “That look only fools an amateur. They’ll know if your dress is from Rainbow or Ann Taylor.” Instead, young professionals should focus on purchasing stylish pieces that will accentuate their personal style while also show their growing professionalism.

Blazers - workplace fashion

Blazers by bosschixnetwork featuring a collar jacket

“Pay attention to what you can and cannot wear to work,” says Gwen Hodrick of Dallas-based Ask Coach Gwen. “Purchase staple pieces but you don’t have to look like you’re wearing a uniform everyday.” Most importantly, when developing a wardrobe, young professional women should remember “your professional brand will last throughout your career,” says Hodrick. Even if you move away from an industry, there will be an imprint on who you once were so put a lot of thought into what you are doing.”

Maintaining or Expanding Your Brand as a Seasoned Professional

If you’ve been working for some time and have begun to establish your professional brand, it’s important to maintain your appearance, Washington warns. “Always show up like it’s your first day,” she says. “The beauty of the seasoned professional is being at the pulse of a new trend. Stay in touch with the current trends.”Leave your mom’s Kasper suits and Talbot’s pants on the store hanger. Instead, Washington advises women to dress for their age. “Weave in polished pieces,” she says. “Remember: I am not my grandmother. I am not a millennial. But I am fashion forward and I will be taken seriously.”

The Little Black Dress is the ultimate wardrobe staple if you are looking to use fashion to help build or maintain your professional brand. It pairs easily with a colorful pair of pumps, a blazer, or cardigan. On the other hand, you can easily use add a silver or gold-toned statement necklace to add some style to the dress. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to your wardrobe. Wearing color shows that a seasoned professional woman has light, advises Washington.

Finally, remember, whether you are starting your career or well established, you’ve got to be think about the messages that you send to others. “When women let their guard down, people will be ready to take whatever power they possess away,” says Hodrick. “Being a minority woman, we’ve got to work even harder in leadership roles.”

Keeping It Corporate and Cute

Keeping It Corporate and Cute by bosschixnetwork

 

 

 

 

Upgrade Your Hustle: 5 TED Talks Every Professional Woman Should Watch

canstockphoto19186449Professional development and training should be a constant focus throughout your career. You should make time to continuously develop your skills and expand your industry knowledge. However, it isn’t often realistic to take a five day formal training class or attend major industry conferences, especially with companies cutting training and travel budgets. I’m going to share a secret that I have used over the past year to get some real time leadership training and coaching— TED Talks. I’ve talked about TED Talks before and I cannot begin to tell you how motivating and beneficial these TED Talks have been for my career. It’s like having a career coach on your desktop.  I promise after you watch these TED Talks you will walk away with real-world application, new skills, and some serious confidence, so grab a seat and get to work.

1.  Susan Colantuono – The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get

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Susan starts off this highly cited and regarded TED Talk by addressing the monumental gender gap within senior-level management, which is a staggering 33% for women. She goes on to explain that the conventional coaching women receive is to be more assertive, develop your network, define your personal brand, and become more focused on leadership soft-skills. While those skills are important for breaking into mid-level leadership roles, they are not the distinguishing traits necessary for moving into senior positions. Susan shares industry insights from CEOs on how they make their decision to promote to senior-level positions while giving actionable advice on how you can position yourself to demonstrate these qualities.

2.  Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

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If you are about to deliver a major presentation or are heading into an interview, this 20 minute TED Talk is just what you need to watch to get you hyped. In this TED Talk, social psychologist, Amy Cuddy discusses body language both from the impact that it has on others perception of us and also how our nonverbal cues impact how we think of ourselves. “Our bodies change our minds… and our minds change our behavior…and our behavior changes our outcomes.” Amy conducted an experiment with subjects using high-power poses and low-power poses to put together this informative and powerful game-changing advice. Watch this talk to see the high-power poses and how to use them in high pressure scenarios to improve your performance.

3.  Sheryl Sandberg – Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

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Facebook executive, author of the empowering book Lean In, and one of the most popular TED Talk speakers on this list, in this TED Talk Sheryl Sandberg answers the question as to why we have too few women leaders in the C-suite. Female representation at the executive level tops out at 15%, and with the challenging decisions that women face between professional success and personal fulfillment, it is hard to imagine how we will close the gender gap in this lifetime.  Sheryl gives keen advice in this TED Talk about how to “lean in”—from a very literal perspective of having a seat at the table and this speech was given pre-Solange Knowles’ album —but also about the unconscious decisions we make that represent us leaning back. This is a must-watch TED Talk from one of the strongest and smartest voices in the 21st century women’s empowerment movement. She encourages us as women to not underestimate our abilities, to negotiate for ourselves, and raise your hand for opportunities like running the new department, taking the lead on the difficult project, or the new client.

4.  Sarah Lewis – Embrace the Near Win 

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This is the TED Talk to watch if you need some motivation, a push in the right direction, some encouragement after a rough day or after a challenging business meeting. In this inspiring TED Talk Sarah Lewis describes the difference between success and mastery, while reminding you that we often learn the most from our failures. That, in fact, failure drives us with more tenacity, and pushes us closer to achieving mastery. According to Lewis this is how you convert success to mastery. Lewis reminds us that, while winning is always a good thing, we are often further motivated when we lose by a hair. Watch this inspiring TED talk to change your outlook on a near win.

5.  Roselinde Torres – What It Takes To Be A Great Leader

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This brief 10 minute TED Talk with Roselinde Torres details what she learned about successful 21st century leaders after quit her job to travel the world study the attributes of effective and ineffective leadership practices in companies, other countries, and non-profit organizations. From her travels she determined two things; the characteristics of successful leaders, and the habits that were in place to enable them to grow to their full potential. Roselinde shares ground-shattering insights about out of date practices, strategies that are causing companies to close their doors for good, and what questions you should ask yourself to figure out if you’re ready to be a great leader. As a leader you have to be willing to face the unknown and this TED Talk will help you figure out if you’re ready.


Honorable Mentions

Here are a couple of additional TED Talks that deserve an honorable mention. These talks are not hosted by women, but they will still beneficial on your leadership development journey.

  1. Adam Galinsky – How to Speak Up for Yourself
  2. Tim Harford – Trial, error and the God complex

What TED Talks have inspired you the most??

 

 

 

6 Tips for Surviving and Thriving this Holiday Season

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The holiday season can be one the happiest times of the year. It can also be one of the most stressful if you’re not careful. It’s unfortunate, really, but so many times we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays that we lose focus on the things that really matter. It’s far too easy to become overwhelmed when you have a growing inbox of party invitations and a growing list of people you just “have” to get gifts for. And we haven’t even mentioned the frustration that comes along when you’re taking those hectic shopping trips, overwhelmed, frustrated, and face to face with long lines and other irritated shoppers.

When did we become so focused on simply surviving the holiday season with our sanity intact?

It’s time for a change. The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, and regardless of how things have gone in the past, we can get back to that. Let’s focus on thriving this holiday season, enjoying the moments, savoring the joy, and spreading good cheer.

 

6 Ways to Thrive this Holiday Season

  1. Make a list, check it twice. Old St. Nick was on to something with this one. Lists are one of the best ways to take the stress out of your hectic holiday situation. And we’re not just talking about lists for those you plan to buy gifts for, that part is a given, but lists for “all the things” you want to accomplish this holiday season. If you want to explore your city, make a list of events that are happening. Or say you want to host a holiday dinner party, make a list of guests, food, and other items you might need. If giving back is a part of your holiday tradition, make a list of all the organizations that are doing work you’re interested in.canstockphoto23849029
  2. Set a budget and stick to it. One of the things that causes people so much stress and anxiety during the holiday season is money. Whether you’re dealing with not having enough money to buy everything you have your eye set on, or you simply threw caution to the wind and went over budget–and in the worse cases, into debt. If you’re not straight on your finances during the holiday season, it’s a direct path to financial stress. This year set a budget, make it realistic and stick to it. Get really detailed and break it down into sections. Budgets for home decorations, gifts for the kids, colleague and family gifts, holiday party attire and more. Once you hit these budgets, be more than okay with that. There is never a need to go into debt, especially during the time of year that should really be focused on so much more.
  3. Give yourself hard deadlines. So, we know that many of the holiday deadlines are already set up for us. You gotta order that gift before a certain date to make sure it arrives in time. You need to send that RSVP to confirm you’re attending the party or you might not make the guest list. It’s the things you don’t give yourself deadlines on that can become a source of anxiety. Put deadlines in place for your personal life as well, for example, making a deadline to finish up outstanding projects by a certain date so you don’t find yourself working through the holidays. Set a deadline for when you’ll get holiday photos or even when you’ll stop accepting event invitations. Try to make it your official deadline to be done holiday shopping the by mid-December. This will allow you to avoid the crowds and actually enjoy the holiday season with friends and family.
  4. Make a calendar of family activities. Something that happens a lot during the holiday season is that we’re so focused on the things we “have to get done” that things we want to do fall by the wayside. How many times have you gone into the canstockphoto8245679holidays with these grand ideas of all the things you’ll do and by the time the new year rolls around, you haven’t done any of them? Making a calendar of the activities you want to do is an extremely helpful way to plan out the things that truly matter. Once they’re on your calendar, whether you use a physical or digital version, lock those activities in place and schedule other things around them. And remember, the point is to enjoy the season, so don’t overload your calendar with events and outings that will make you tired and not in a celebratory mood.  You don’t have to go to every party you’re invited to.
  5. Take time daily to practice gratitude. Did you know that one of the most effective ways to feel happier overall is by being grateful? During the chaotic holiday season, it’s so easy to focus on your needs. You need everything. You need to go shopping, you need to get dressed, you need to decorate, you need more time. Switching your focus to all the things you already have during the holidays is a great way to reset and refocus. Every day, take a few moments to give thanks for all you have. Approach your growing to-do list with a gratitude mindset and watch how more relaxed you become.
  6. Treat yo self. Okay sis, this one’s for you. You’ve made the list, stuck to your budget, and created your boundaries. It’s time for quite canstockphoto23290096possibly the most important way to thrive…treat yo’ Self-care is essential during the holiday season (and every other season there is). Take a few moments—or a few coins—to treat yourself to something you’ve had your eye on. Whether that’s the new bag you’ve been eyeing or a trip to a local spa for a massage, you’ve earned it! ’Tis the season!