Female tech founders, innovators gather at Bell Works for inaugural NJ Women in Technology forum

NextTech Communications, in partnership with TechUnited: New Jersey and the Bell Works Co-Lab, hosted the inaugural NJ Women in Technology forum in Holmdel last week, where a panel of female technology leaders from across the state addressed some key topics.

The event came at a poignant time for female executives — who, despite improvements in parity, still face a disproportionate number of barriers in the workplace. According to Pew Research Center, 50% of women in tech have reported discrimination and inequality in a professional setting. Additionally, only 9% of women-led startups have attracted venture capital investment and a mere 26.7% of women currently hold tech-related jobs.

Events like the NJ Women in Technology forum are an integral first step in effecting change and making resources more accessible to women in and outside of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The evening featured a lively panel discussion around key factors faced by women in traditional and nontraditional STEM pathways, including imposter syndrome, gender bias, leading organizational transformation and capitalizing on growth opportunities. Attendees participated in a networking session preceding and following the event.

Panelists included Jenna Gaudio, co-president and chief operating officer of Vydia (acquired by gamma in December 2022); Amanda Pietrocola, CEO and president of Momentum Technology; and Jasmine Ward, vice president of strategy & operation at TechUnited:NJ.

The panel and subsequent Q&A session was moderated by Janine Savarese, founder and CEO of NextTech Communications.

Savarese opened the evening’s panel with a motivating note about the blue-sky potential beyond the glass ceiling, saying, “If you have an entrepreneurial mindset and treat your position as if it were your own company within a bigger organization — that’s the way to really succeed.”

Highlights of the conversation included revelations from the panelists and moderator about the challenges they’ve faced and the successes they’ve been able to capitalize on as women leaders in the technology field.

They included these observations:

  • On the importance of diverse teams: “Because there is this competition to get to the top, sometimes we are unintentionally pushing down other people instead of rallying arm-in-arm and doing it together. When you go to the symphony, you’re not expecting to just hear 50 of one instrument. It’s so much better when you’ve got different instruments — and their uniqueness, and the beauty of their differences coming together and doing something amazing.” — Pietrocola
  • On diversifying artificial intelligence and hiring practices: “There is a very strong case to be made for diversifying the way in which companies look to build their resources. There is a big opportunity to look at the way we are writing and promoting and leveraging data — or even the way we’re going out to the market to pull in a more diverse candidate pool.” — Ward
  • On helping other women climb the ladder: “I realized early in my career that influencing the situation for my own good and the good of others would be an absolutely necessary skillset in changing my trajectory — and the trajectory of all women in tech.” — Gaudio