Women in Tech: New Insights from TrustRadius

First, Some Context

I am a woman in tech. Specifically, I work with data from abuse investigations for the State of Oregon. (If you’re curious, my work is released publicly in the form of an annual data book.) My team is small, and actually, the women on my team outnumber the men by a small margin. Our office is a relatively small one, and our team is just five analysts. I feel fortunate, to a degree, for the unique place I’ve found in tech. I hold an entry level position and I’m supported by mentors and offered training opportunities. It is a comfortable and supportive place to begin a technology career. Studies show, however, that my situation is unique.

PDX WIT – Portland Women In Tech

The experience of most women in tech is more adverse than mine. I first encountered this reality while networking at an event in Portland, when one of the women on a panel shared her own struggle as the only woman on a team of financial analysts for a private sector firm. I was struck by her drive and tenacity, and her story about a supervisor providing the feedback that she could be more direct and less apologetic was revelatory for me. Mostly, I realized that my cozy little spot was doing nothing to prepare me for the challenges I might face as I advanced in my career as a data analyst.

It was at this networking event that I was told about Portland Women In Tech. The advice I received was to go to their networking events and learn more about both the adversity and the opportunities for women. I was intrigued and hopeful. The PDX WIT website outlines their purpose as this:

“PDXWIT empowers individuals within the Portland-area tech industry by offering community and skill-building events, mentorship, and access to jobs and opportunities. We dedicate ourselves to nurturing community leaders, advocating for the underrepresented, and inspiring change both locally and in the wider world. We leverage our leadership, commitment and influence towards reducing the imbalances that exist today in an industry that is shaping the future of humanity.”

Women Building Up Women

Finally, the Data

Studying the way we hire, fire, pay, promote and work is the awareness that sparks the beginning of change. PDX WIT collects data from surveys in the Portland, Oregon area. Their report is PDX WIT State of the Community and has insights into the experiences of women, people of color, and people who identify as non-gender conforming. TrustRadius compiled data from national data sets including from Statista and Glassdoor to produce the following key points:

Why do women join tech? 37% get started in the industry because of its fast pace. The ability to solve interesting problems (35%) and opportunities for growth (27%) round out the top 3.
43% of female tech professionals don’t think their company invests enough in building women’s careers. These perceptions vary by experience level, department, and job title.
Around 1 in 4 leadership roles at large tech companies are held by women.
Women in tech earn 94.6 cents for every dollar earned by a man with the same role and experience.
Men are 3x as likely to think that the wage gap between women and men in tech is because of a difference in job performance. Only 8% of women agree!
Asking for a raise based on current inequitable wage rates is why it takes women longer than men to earn more.
Men and women will both ask for approximately 33% raise, but they’re starting lines are so disparate, the finish line gets farther away for women with each raise.

Solutions and Resources

Alright, the data is scary. Discouraging. Debbie Downer and all that. Where do we go from here? Well, the purpose of data is to identify and validate these disparities, so we can look at opportunities.

Networking and Mentor Relationships

Personally, I adore the networking forums that have been created by remarkable women in the face of these issues. Local networking organizations are the sources to start supporting one another and championing the necessary changes to come. When we gather, train, and mentor together, we build a collaborative coalition that has the strength to bring meaningful changes to the environments we work in. We’ve already talked about PDX WIT. The State of Oregon Research Academy (SORA) is another networking group for researchers, economists, financial analysts etc. (learn more here).

Consumer Engagement and Social Media

SORA’s Journey to a Social Media Launch

Consumer Engagement and Social Media: SORA’s Journey to a Social Media Launch

Business Presence on Social Media

Just over 42% of the world population is using social media on their mobile device. More than 3.48 billion people are active social media users – that’s 45% of the world’s population. These users support an e-commerce market valued at $1.786 trillion for 2019, and that’s up 14% from last year.

Why Your Website is Not Enough

Most organizations have a website, but not all have invested enough into engaging with consumers on social media. Google, YouTube and Facebook are the top three visited websites globally. Google will direct consumers to your organization’s website, but having a website alone won’t give you a presence on social media. According to Hootsuite, 90% of brands use social media to increase brand awareness. The 10% who don’t use social media are just not going to remain relevant or competitive.

Consumers spend more than 3 hours each day on their smartphones (e-marketer, 2019), and 90% of that time within smartphone apps (not their internet browser). Media connected users are spending that 3+ hours in audio-media apps, social media apps, and video-media apps – in that order. Your organization’s website may be at the end of a google search, maybe, but if you neglect audio and social media, then you’re out of sight and out of mind.

Consumer Engagement

Social media platforms offer a venue for customer service, consumer engagement, and consumer generated content. Users expect to be able to use a social media platform to provide feedback and stay informed, and they prefer social media platforms to calling in their feedback. Customer satisfaction is just the beginning. Your brand awareness depends on engagement on social media. Consumers want an experience that they will then share with their network using hashtags and location tags.

An Organization’s Journey to Social Media

I found an organization at the cusp of starting their journey to a social media launch, and interviewed its founder and creator. I’ve also volunteered to be part of that journey by committing to planning and strategy meetings for the launch. On a sunny, somewhat windy day in July, I sat down with Tasha Chapman at the Ike Box coffee shop in downtown Salem and learned what follows.

The State of Oregon Research Academy (SORA) is a data-happy nerd club of sorts, its creation inspired by Chapman’s experiences. From 2007-2014, Chapman hosted the State of Oregon SAS Users Group (SOSUG), which provided training sessions for state employees interested in SAS programming. The sessions were viewed as “useful, but had low engagement”. Chapman said that in 2013, she had “discovered these Learning Sessions that Pam McVay was hosting at DHS for OFRA.  The content for these sessions was very broad and engaging, but the sessions were essentially limited to just OFRA employees.”

Chapman envisioned a group with an expanded purpose and scope to include any State of Oregon research employee, and a broader range of experiences offered, and started SORA in 2014.

“I wanted to pair the content of the Learning Sessions with the wide open format of SOSUG. So I hosted the first SORA session solo in September 2014.  After that I asked for other volunteers to help join me, and thus began the first SORA Executive Committee.” – Tasha Chapman, 2019

SORA now has a beautiful and practical website, built and maintained by Julie Huber of the State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). SORA’s website boasts a membership of “more than 700 members, representing close to 20 agencies across the state. Members include research analysts, financial analysts, economists, database architects, information systems specialists, auditors, managers, legislative staff, and even entomologists!”

SORA Focus Group Study

Engagement has increased and grown for SORA in it’s half-decade of life, but the SORA board sought to measure its members’ experience with a Focus Group Study. The findings were many and varied from feedback about the types of offerings to the benefits of membership, but the resonant feedback was a request for SORA to have a social media presence. Members wanted a place to exchange knowledge, share events, and stay informed about SORA’s events. They want to network in real time, in addition to the networking events hosted by SORA, and they wanted a place to ask questions.

GovSpace – the MySpace for Government Employees

I hadn’t actually heard of GovSpace until I interviewed Tasha Chapman, SORA co-creator and board member. Tasha says GovSpace was considered as an option for launching SORA’s social media presence for several reasons. First, State of Oregon employees can use the site at work without violating any policies. Also, GovSpace provides users with a space other than their personal social media profiles, so their private lives can remain private while they interact with GovSpace. GovSpace has collaborative spaces and customizable user pages, much like MySpace – if you remember what that was like. GovSpace, however, has low engagement and is simply not widely used enough to meet SORA’s goal of increasing engagement.

SORA’s Social Media Sub-committee

SORA has only just begun its journey to social media, and its first step was to form a Social Media Sub-committee. Part of the sub-committee’s purpose is to determine the best place for SORA’s social media launch, whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or some other platform. Also on the agenda is whether SORA should launch in multiple platforms, or focus on one.

Chapman wants the subcommittee to consider the benefits and drawbacks of the two options. A single platform could mean users would have a forum for discussions and sharing, but we would have to consider which platform would best reach our audience. Multiple platforms would enable broader announcements and promotions to the group through many platforms, but we risk siloing feedback and discussions because users will engage through their preferred platform.

Tasha Chapman and Lora Edwards

Tasha Chapman is a Research Analyst at the State of Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. She co-created the State of Oregon SAS Users Group, which she expanded in 2014 to become State of Oregon Research Academy. Tasha remains on the executive board for SORA.

Women in Tech: New Insights from TrustRadius

Build a collaborative coalition that has the strength to bring meaningful changes to the environments we work in.

Psychology in Marketing: Emotional Response Strategy

What if the way we understand the neuroscience of emotions is wrong?




Psychology in Marketing – Emotional Response Strategy

Consumers are Emotional Constructors, Not Reactors

Your marketing strategy may include attempting to evoke specific emotional responses within your viewers, in order to pivot to a sale or get that click through. But, what if the way we understand the neuroscience of emotions is wrong?

The classical view of emotional neuroscience says that people are reactive and emotions rest in regions of the brain, but new research suggests that the experience of emotions are predicted by the subject based on prior events and information. Neuroscientist, Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett contends (in her book, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain) that people need context and sensory input to form an emotional response. In other words, people need to have experienced a given concept before they can gauge how to feel about a given sensory input.

Give Them Sensory Input They’ve Already Experienced

If Dr. Feldman Barrett is correct, then what are the implications for the way we market our businesses and products to the consumer? I would argue that it means we have to tie our ad campaign to an existing experience, something that our target audience can relate to on the desired emotional level. 

Take for example the ad created by Wieden and Kennedy for Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick, the football player who stirred up controversy during football games in order to highlight the issue of racial inequality. Wieden and Kennedy’s team took the risk of appearing to support Kaepernick’s position by posting the sentence: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” right over the bridge of Kaepernick’s nose. This ad produced a familiar image – Kaepernick and his ideals – knowing that the emotional response from most consumers would be previously constructed and strong.

 Jump Start Effective Frequency

Wieden and Kennedy took a calculated risk that the positive emotional responses would outweigh the negatives, and they succeeded. The ad went viral and Nike saw an increase in sales of 31% over that Labor Day Weekend after the ad aired. If you believe Thomas Kennedy’s assessment of Effective Frequency (the theory that a person is totally unaware of an ad until they have seen it three times) then the strategy of using a prominent experience to share your product would bypass the need for multiple ignored advertisements. 

maybe this time

Wieden and Kennedy didn’t cause emotional reactions, they reminded people of their previous emotions regarding an experience they’d already analyzed and discussed. Thus, in a very small window of commercial ad space, Nike’s advertising company could catch the attention of those who had already built up the constructs of emotional response to a familiar image and message.

Ready for some proof? Let’s have a little fun with optical illusions! If you can’t tell me what you see in the below image (aside from black and white blobs) then, according to Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, you’ve just encountered something called Experiential Blindness. Curious? She reveals the image in her Ted Talk.

About the Doctor

(excerpt from lisafeldmanbarrett.com accessed 7/24/19)

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to the book How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, Dr. Barrett has published over 200 peer-reviewed, scientific papers appearing in Science, Nature Neuroscience, and other top journals in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, as well as six academic volumes published by Guilford Press. She has also given a popular TED talk.

Dr. Barrett received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her revolutionary research on emotion in the brain. These highly competitive, multi million dollar awards are given to scientists of exceptional creativity who are expected to transform biomedical and behavioral research. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019.

Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Barrett has testified before Congress, presented her research to the FBI, consulted to the National Cancer Institute, appeared on Through The Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and The Today Show with Maria Shriver, and been a featured guest on public television and worldwide radio programs. She is also an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada.

Looking for a Change?

When you are interested in making a career change, it’s essential to identify what, where, and how fitting the new career will be. There are many ways to approach changing careers in this technological era, but the most fundamental action you can take is building upon your expertise, skills, and competencies. To build up these, Willamette University offers exceptional programs throughout their College of Liberal Arts, Master of Business Administration (including MBA for Early Career and Career Change, as well as MBA for Professionals), and College of Law. Willamette University also offers various student organizations that contribute to professionals who are looking for a different career path.

Data Science is one of the many programs that Willamette University offers that would help career changers remarkably. Data Science is a combination of developing an algorithm, data interference, and technology to solve analytically complicated issues, and a complementary skill set for a career related to social media. Engineering and Computer Science, two more outstanding programs offered by Willamette University, are related to Data Science and would also programs to consider for serious career changers.

There are many engineering programs offers at Willamette University, out of all Software Engineering is one of an extensive program that provides career changers with more database focused path. Being more familiar with data channels is a great start and would benefit career changers with a core data manipulation skillset. With software engineering, they would enable themselves to rebrand and have vast experience with data munging. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for software developers (software engineer) is over $105,000 a year with 24% job growth (much faster than average). To build up analytical, communication, and problem-solving and interpersonal skills, software engineering is an ideal field Willamette University provides.

Ideal lists of programs Willamette University offers:
– Data Science
– Engineering (Software Engineering)
– Computer Science

For more information and application processes please visit:



Don’t Get Thrown Out With the Dirty Dishwater!

I used to think my Dad was not fun for reading boring newspaper.  My children will think I'm not fun for reading boring reddit.
Photo Credit: www.quickmeme.com

The era of the newspaper is dying.  Perhaps we can throw that out with the dirty dishwater!  Not so long ago, generationally speaking, the newspaper was the “go-to,” one size fits all, media resource. Be it searching for employment, browsing the classified ads, or just catching up on the latest local or national news, the newspaper was the hard copy version of our modern-day digital age of social media. With technological advances on a steady rise – and a world full of ISPs, URLs, Platforms, AI (Artificial Intelligence), Blogs, Tweets, Chats, Posts, and Hashtags – the way information is shared today has dramatically changed since the days of old. Now if you still grab your paper copy of the news to read it along with your morning coffee, then great! But chances are, the digital version of that same media was already delivered to computers and cell phones around the globe, long before that crinkled up paper copy hit your door.    

While this story of the ages might lack significance for those who have retired from the workforce, for many, the world of business has become increasingly reliant on the need to utilize the power of technological advancements and social media to bring products to the market and remain competitive. Whether it be to promote your business, enter a new career path or just stay relevant (and not get thrown out with the dirty dishwater), rapid changes in industry practices have prompted many workers to be proactive and attain the knowledge and abilities necessary to succeed. If you’re looking to advance your education to thrive in today’s marketplace, consider Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management – A Nationally Accredited, Top-Tier MBA for Professionals program, ranked #1 in Oregon. This program has strategically built a foundation of learning that meets the practical needs and demands of the social media and marketing industry.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American changes jobs 10-15 times between the ages of 18-46. Considering 77% of U.S small businesses use social media for key business functions (SCORE 2018), a career within social media and marketing shows great prospects for both new graduates and for those who wish to change or advance their careers. The demand for skilled workers within this industry demonstrates how digital marketing has increased business performance. A report from SCORE reveals the benefits of using social media as follows: 

  • 59% of businesses report that facilitating customer service through social media makes it easier to get issues resolved.
  • 44% of businesses report that social media helps generate brand awareness.
  • 41% of businesses depend on social media to drive revenue.

So how important is social media to consumers in today’s marketplace? This comical video clip demonstrates the impact social media tools have had on the consumer. It just might change your attitude about social media marketing.