Entrepreneurship is often thought about as a male field – men more so have the ability to innovate and the access to the financial resources to do so. Perhaps, what this comes down to is the lack of freedom to think creatively. At GovLoop, we talk a great deal about innovation, and the opportunities that result from pushing boundaries and taking risks with careers. But women in government can’t always take risks. Social factors often discourage women from innovating to help the government do its job better. In environments that are risk-averse, there’s very little room for innovation or creativity.
At the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies event on women in leadership roles, panelists brought together the major theme of women's limited access to capital in the U.S. and abroad.
The panelists gave a great deal of advice on how to innovate despite risk-aversion towards women as they enter the workforce. However, their advice is universal. Almost all of these principles can benefit both women and men hoping to innovate in the government. Here are a couple of the most cross-cutting tips on how to foster your career to encourage you to think outside the box as not a woman, but as a government professional.
● Network like crazy. Don't be shy, no matter whom you’re talking to. It’s the basic Lean In argument. Have confidence no matter what the context.
● Assert yourself boldly in any circumstance or conversation. Natalie Madeira Cofield, President and CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, reminded the audience, when was the last time you saw someone actually saying, "you can't talk to us right now?"
● Be active in your chosen field. Attend industry events and always stay up to date on what's being talked about amongst the people you'd like to work alongside.
● Foster supportive relationships in your personal life. Make sure that the people in your life outside of the professional world, such as your family or partner, aren't discouraging you from excelling in your career.
● Foster supportive partnerships in the professional world. Find a mentor, or be a mentor to someone. Role models are hugely important to develop and see concretely all of the possibilities that your career could provide you.
● Have the right mindset. Always be in learning mode, and stay curious.
● Find the work you love. Figure out the job where you think you've been working for five minutes, and you look up and three hours have passed. At the end of the day, passion (not money!) is everything, suggested Marie Fishpaw, the Product Strategy and Development Professional at Bloomberg Government.
● Life is short. Don't wait to achieve your goals. Meena Krishnan, President & CEO of Inoventures LLC, experienced the sudden tragedy of losing most of her family in a car accident, so she learned that you must forget your fears and seize life right now. Write your own destiny.
Unsurprisingly, there were very few men at the event. It's understandable, but perhaps it's a common misperception that networking and career tips geared towards women are only applicable to women. Which of the gems of advice listed above couldn't help anyone trying to push boundaries and innovate in their career?
What other pieces of career advice given to women also relate to men? Post your comments and thoughts below.