Cisco’s chief technology officer, Padmasree Warrior, said there is “no such thing as a work-life balance”, but instead she integrates the two.
Attending the supplier’s annual conference Cisco Live! in San Francisco, she said: “I now aim for integration - the word ‘balance’ suggests work and family gets an equal amount of time, which is stress for you.”
Speaking at the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) session, she said: “Having it all doesn’t mean doing it all, it means asking for help and doing what is important.”
She advised the crowd of mostly women not to feel guilty about the decisions they make in their personal life, and to ensure to take time for themselves as well as work and family.
“Give yourself the permission to do whatever it is in the moment that needs your energy,” said Warrior. “And don’t neglect what you love.”
She also said women should embrace “personal transformation” throughout their careers as it leads to new opportunities and skills.
“All of us are transforming constantly, unique experiences, life and professional,” she said. “Changing constantly as leaders and human beings.”
“Personal transformation causes us to be self-aware, and self-awareness allows us to seek new opportunities to gain new skillsets,” said Warrior.
Warrior also said there needs to be an industry transformation to encourage more women into technology.
She said around half of the general workforce is split evenly between males and females, but women only make up 23% of the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workplace.
Out of graduating women, only 12% will go on to STEM-related careers, and ten years later just 3% will still pursue those roles.
Later in the session, Julie Silard Kantor, chief partnership officer of STEMconnector and Million Women Mentors took to the stage to tell the audience about a new initiative that has been set up in the US.
The Million Women Mentors programme aims to improve the percentage of young girls and women studying and taking jobs in STEM subjects.
The programme aims to sign up one million mentors to pledge time to support a female in Stem skills over the next four years. The programme, which is supported by Cisco, as well as the Girl Scouts launched in January has signed up nearly 59,000 volunteers to commit their time.