Key Takeaways From Intel's Inaugural Girl Geek Dinner

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Add value. Don't "act like a boy" and shout out. But don't just sit there and raise your hand either. James tells us: Adjust how you're showing up, but don't stop showing up. By Emily Gonzales (CTO, Bookigee)

At Wednesday's Intel Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner, there was no shortage of sensory overload for the tech geeks like myself who were present. From exciting demos of future products to fascinating facts in the Intel museum, there was plenty to take in while enjoying delicious food and great drinks with like-minded professional women in tech. Without a doubt, the highlight was hearing directly from the speakers, the female technology rock stars of Intel themselves.

Here's what I learned from them:

  1. Diversity means much more than just differences in race and gender.When asked 'Why is diversity in IT important and how will Diversity help innovate in the future?', Kimberly S. Stevenson, Vice President, Information Technology Group, Chief Information Officer says: If you don't represent the customers you support, it's difficult to understand what you're representing. Like in applications, if you develop like a developer, your application will not sell. You have to develop like a user. You must be diverse from experience base, cultural base, and gender base.

    Vida Ilderem, Vice President, Intel Labs, Director, Integrated Platform Research added: Besides gender and race, you need people with different views, who've had different experiences. Once you've built this team, Senior Vice President Renee James, General Manager, Software and Services Group advises to: go into your organization and talk to everyone at every level. The lower level people know things that you don't know and all the people between you think that you don't need to hear these things. You'll learn so much.

  2. Surround your self with people who are different from you.
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    Tammy Cyphert, Vice President, Intel Architecture Group, General Manager, PC Client Group Operations seeks out people who have a different opinion than hers. She explains: One person alone can't know everything. I look for people who disagree with me the most because I learn the most from them. Stevenson says: Think about the people that astonish you. Being astonished almost always comes from someone who just saw the problem differently. According to James: In tech companies, details matter. If you're going to lead a tech company, find smarter people and listen to them. Figure out how to lead people smarter than you and how to get the best out of them.

  4. Make yourself heard in the right way.
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    When asked how to coach women to make their voices heard in all-male groups, Stevenson tells us: It's common for women to say: I'm going to work hard and they'll recognize my work. You do have to work hard and deliver results, but that isn't enough.

    You need to have a voice. Often, if you are the only women in the room, you can say "You know what I heard you say..., also to add to that..." Add value. Don't 'act like a boy' and shout out. But don't just sit there and raise your hand either. James tells us: Adjust how you're showing up, but don't stop showing up.

  6. Don't be a victim when slighted by male tech counterparts.
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    Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for us to be put down by our male colleagues from time to time. When this happens, James puts things in perspective: If you become victimized by that, and you focus on that, then you're all about you and what you feel - not about what you're trying to accomplish. Remember what you're trying to do and be persistent. Don't take it personally, focus and keep going.

  8. Moving up in the ranks does not mean you have to sacrifice time for a family.
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    Stevenson reveals that: It gets easier as you go up. At the lower levels as an individual contributor, you learn to manage your time differently. As you move up, yes, there's a ton of demand on your time, and you can't create more of it. But you can get more work done because you can give more direction. The toughest time is when you have many choices. But remember that no choice is forever. Every person will make different choices. Follow your passions and you'll end up contributing in significant ways.

James left us all with action items to take with us as we continue to learn, develop and grow as women working hard in technology: To become a leader, you have to earn it. Say what you're going to do, do it, and do it better than people expect. Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Emily Gonzales is the CTO of Bookigee, an early-stage startup that builds online analytics and marketing applications for the Book Publishing Industry. Prior to joining Bookigee, Emily was a Director at Expense Reduction Analysts. Before that, she was a Senior Design Engineer at Motorola. She holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from The University of Miami and writes for TechFemme. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyshere.