Maybe you’ve heard the story: As a Navy Reservist (and early computer scientist) in 1946, Grace Hopper and her team discovered a moth stuck in a relay switch in a Mark II computer, and then removed it—thus performing the first (literal) “debugging” in computer history.
Fast forward to 2015: Jillian Craft, LGS Project Manager, attends the Grace Hopper Celebrating Women in Computing conference and listens to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, speak about the Lean In® foundation she launched in 2013 to help professional women “sit at the table.” Lean In offers educational resources and programming that encourages female leadership.
At the conference, Sandberg discussed how women can take charge of their careers and push forward through persistent gender biases. In support of this mission, Sandberg promoted the creation of professional support groups called “Lean In Circles®.” After listening to the talk, Jillian realized that this was missing at LGS and was something the company should try.
“At LGS, we didn’t have a forum for women to learn to navigate in a male-dominated workforce,” Jillian says. “I proposed to offer trial Lean In Circle meetings to gauge interest levels and see how effective it could be in our environment.”
With the full support of LGS management and working with LGS contractor Susan Carabello as the facilitator, Jillian has moderated four Lean In Circle meetings with 25 women from the GCS organization. Participants range from interns to managers, and voluntarily participate in these monthly sessions during their lunch hour.
Each meeting is centered on a topic that includes an informational video, group discussion, and application of leadership strategies to address current opportunities and challenges. The topics offered to date have included centered leadership, empowerment through presence and speech patterns, forming multi-gender support, and navigating the gender tightrope. Susan and Jillian have molded the information from Lean In’s recommended topics to fit with attendees’ interest areas, backgrounds, and the LGS culture.
“It’s been gratifying to see attendees volunteering their own time to attend these meetings,” says Susan. “We’ve been impressed by the high levels of interest and participation. The attendees are leveraging shared knowledge and using it to help them in their professional and personal lives.”