Her Stories: Shining a Spotlight on the Women of Inspur
Every year on March 8 we recognize the political, social and cultural achievements of women, as well as renew our pledge to champion gender equality and women’s rights.
This Women’s Day, we invited a few of the remarkable women at Inspur to share their stories, career paths, and perspectives about working in the tech industry.
Angela Wang, Director of Human Resources, leads her team in developing a comprehensive HR infrastructure to support the organization. In addition to being an employee advocate, she also provides leadership coaching and insights for strategic planning.
She made a shift from conventional companies into the tech space and has since stayed, citing the major impact that tech has on modern society. “From my experience, I found that tech is the future of the world. This is where you can make a difference, and I want to be a part of that.”
In the tech environment, she learned skills and tools like Agile and lean team processes. “I apply these workflows and automations to enable companies I work with to nimbly respond to external challenges while remaining aligned to their goals.” She also develops coaching programs to help technical leads with limited management experience become better team leaders. “This part of my job really helps sharpen my coaching and interpersonal skills.”
As a change agent on the frontlines of driving progress in the company, Angela recognizes the importance of direct support from the organization. “Understanding and flexibility from the employer is crucial for women to balance their work, family and self.”
As an Event Supervisor, Cynthia Liu is in charge of planning and executing marketing strategies for industry conferences and media relations. Since graduating from Ohio State University with a major in Marketing, she has worked as a marketing professional for over a decade in a wide range of industries and global teams.
An equally appealing and challenging aspect of marketing is that it is a dynamic and rapidly changing field, especially in the Silicon Valley. “I have seen the transformation from traditional marketing to today’s state of digital marketing.” In an industry that is constantly evolving, Cynthia notes, “It is important to understand how people react to modern marketing methods, and design the most appropriate strategies for a business and execute them for success.”
While the break-neck pace of tech is challenging, Cynthia is drawn to the exciting innovations that constantly emerge from this industry.
Rhonda Liao, VP of Strategic Alliance and Marketing, enjoys the opportunity the role brings to not only grow the business but also make a difference in the company. However, her path there was not easy. “My role was brand new and I was challenged with known and unknown risks.” But being a pioneer in uncharted waters meant having the freedom to forge her own way. “I had the autonomy to define the position and was given a lot of support and trust to do so. Getting to work with great partners and teams, seeing the results that come out everyone’s efforts and collaboration is very gratifying to me.”
As someone who frequently collaborates with executives at partner companies, Rhonda sees first-hand the increasing share of voice for women in the industry. “I see a growing number of women not just at Inspur, but also around me in the tech industry, who are taking up or playing more leadership roles, speaking their minds more, and making a bigger impact.” Even so, she hopes for more. “I would like to see more female leadership at all levels in the workplace.”
Living in the Silicon Valley, Rhonda’s family is no stranger to technology. She shares, “I’m a mother of two teenagers who teach me different aspects of tech all the time. They bring different perspectives to the conversation and are super supportive of my job.” Managing her home and career come with the stresses of each, but she finds it enriching and rewarding. “Being a working woman and a mother has given me valuable experiences, insights, and skills, which are also major assets to the team and the organization.”
Emmy Chang, VP of Sales, started her career path from personal interest and experience in replacing her own PC components. Her curiosity grew as she began exploring larger, higher performance computing hardware that eventually led her to a career in the server industry.
A challenge she cites as a woman in tech is the kinds of assumptions people would make about her role. “There aren’t that many women in the hardware tech industry. Sometimes I would be mistaken for an assistant or secretary but not as the main person in charge.” Despite her frustration, she finds the challenge motivating. “That just makes me want to aim even higher!”
Emmy believes that women offer a unique set of strengths and skills to the tech industry. “Our persistence, human touch and non-traditional perspectives actually help the growth of this industry, and we can see many excellent female leaders such as Lisa Su (AMD CEO) standing tall among major multibillion companies.”
Unfortunately, the job economy is a long way from gender parity. Emmy believes more can be done to give women equal opportunities to be top leaders, reporting, “There are still far fewer women in C- level and senior executive positions than men in the tech industry.” Her observation is reflected in studies which show that as of this year women still only hold 29.1% of top executive positions and 40.9 % of management positions in the S&P 500.
Furthermore, even as more women enter the workforce, they still bear a heavier burden than men balancing work and family. Not only do they take on more responsibilities at home, they are also more likely to face difficulties with career advancement as a result. As a mother in a demanding job role, Emmy shares “it’s really important to have an understanding husband or partner to share the load of family responsibilities.” Many but not all companies offer benefits like paid maternity and paternity leave, and the US does not have a national mandate on paid family leave. Even in California, one of a few states that offer a paid family leave program, parents only receive partial wages up to a maximum of $1,300 (in 2020) for six weeks.
It is clear that many obstacles remain in the way of gender equality, across tech and other industries. To move the needle, companies can take steps to create a more supportive environment for women to succeed. Policies like diversity and inclusion initiatives in hiring and fair promotion procedures can be implemented to address the gender gap. Covid-19 has proven that many companies, Inspur included, have reevaluated work-life flexibility, adopting remote work policies that let employees adapt work around family demands. More comprehensive employee benefits would also help to alleviate work stress, especially as women experienced more burnout during the pandemic than their male colleagues.
History has taught us women are an invaluable part of the workforce, and it is important to build infrastructures that support and empower them. Through continuous efforts to provide equal opportunities, better workplace support, and an inclusive culture, Inspur strives to be an organization where our female teammates can thrive.