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WWLF News and Annoucements

  • 03 May 2022 5:47 PM | Anonymous

    With warm weather and the start of summer comes the Annual Women in Wireless Leadership Forum Mentoring Program (WWLF). The WWLF Mentoring Program connects seasoned women in the wireless industry with new wireless professionals to accelerate career development, build networks and offer guidance and support. Mentoring programs have been proven to benefit many industries and the value of the WWLF Mentoring Program is seen among mentors and mentees alike. 

    The WWLF Mentoring Program runs for a full year with many mentors and mentees participating multiple years in a row. Program participants are required to check in once a month with their counterparts along with attending an all-program meeting each quarter. Throughout the year, mentors and mentees are provided with discussion topics and goals. At the end of the program, participants are asked to rate their overall experience and share what they have learned. This past year, the program averaged a rating of 4.8 out of 5. One mentor commented, “It was a very rewarding experience being a mentor. I enjoyed getting to know my mentee and our conversations were helpful for both of us.” Many of the mentees expressed that the program benefitted their career growth with one mentee stating, “I didn’t even realize the goals I wanted to work on until I started meeting with my mentor.”

    Recruitment sites and scholarly articles also praise mentoring programs for what they can provide to both mentors and mentees. According to LinkedIn, mentoring programs allow mentors to learn effective leadership styles, gain feedback, and get exposed to new perspectives. This allows mentors to grow as leaders in their companies and WWLF.  Indeed shows that the mentor-mentee relationship can aid in goal setting, networking, and gaining knowledge. 

    I can personally attest to the many advantages of the WWLF mentoring program. This past year was my first year as a mentee and the work I did with my mentor helped me immerse myself in the wireless industry and WWLF. I initially joined because I realized I needed some support and guidance outside of my place of employment. I wanted to work on how I could grow at my current company and how I could build my network in the industry. The application process was a quick one-pager on what I was looking for in a mentor and what I was looking to gain from the program. A few weeks later I was paired with my mentor Ashli! It was so exciting to speak to her for the first time and swap wireless experiences. I’m not sure how the WWLF Mentoring Program board did it but our pairing was perfect! We both had similar interests and the goals I wanted to work on were goals that Ashli had achieved over the last few years. Ashli and I had our mentor/mentee meeting once a month after that initial call, but we kept in contact regularly to share wins, suggest videos/podcasts, and even just to vent. A year later, my role at my current company has grown; I’m a committee member and City Rep in WWLF and I’m lucky to call Ashli a friend. I truly encourage every member to sign up for this program. The lessons learned and friendships made make this a valuable experience for all.

  • 05 Apr 2022 4:44 PM | Anonymous

    Fresh out of attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a show I’ve attended for +20 years, I can’t help but reflect on how far the Wireless Industry has come.  Being a Nortel Alum, I’ve always been intrigued with the actual technology and how the “communications magic” happens.  Technology really wants to move at a faster pace than we can keep up with: Talks about 6G were happening all over the Conference, and we haven’t even fully yet experienced 5G yet. Sometimes I feel that our industry is on a mission to confuse us all!  

    I have lost count of how many times a non-telecom friend has asked me, almost with shame, to explain the whole “G’s” in SIMPLE terms, and here’s what I’ve come up with.    

    -1G: Purely Voice Communication,
    -2G: 1G + Texts,
    -3G: 2G + Web browsing,  
    -4G: 3G + Video Streaming, 
    -5G: 10 times faster speed than 4G! (Enabling virtual reality, robotics, and automation of almost everything you can imagine.)      

    When people learn that my family has been building Wireless Towers since 1972, there are two main comments associated with that: “can you please build a tower at XXXX, because the coverage there is really bad” OR “So, I guess you won’t sign a petition to prevent the buildout of such and such tower in our neighborhood?”   It is truly crazy to see how we, humans, struggle with admitting that technology has already invaded the way we live.   We have a love and hate relationship with it.  We don’t want the tower, or the equipment in our neighborhood, but we expect to stream our favorite Netflix show while we wait at the doctor’s office.  We can’t have our cake and eat it too.    

    Early on, one of the main challenges preventing a full speed 5G deployment was spectrum availability, but with the completion of the C-Band spectrum auction, where America’s largest carriers spent an unprecedented $93B one can be sure that any roadblocks to deployment will be cleared.    Another challenge has been regulatory approval.  I recently got a handful of calls to gauge my opinion when the FAA delaying 5G roll-out was all over the news.   “Is 5G going to happen as planned?”  I believe that the wireless industry is going above and beyond with its voluntary mitigation efforts to address the latest concerns brought by the FAA’s about aviation safety, and in fact, just very recently, the FAA issued an official statement that hints that all stakeholders are now working with a strong collaborative approach and that a resolution is on the horizon.   

    Workforce shortage has also been a recurring challenge in preventing 5G deployments to go at a faster pace and having a skilled and broad workforce will be more important than ever to accomplish the industry’s work.   The Wireless Infrastructure Association has really been an impactful advocate for this cause, and in furthering so many different initiatives that do benefit workforce development

    The enactment of the historic ‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’ will provide unprecedented levels of government support for infrastructure improvement.   Due to this, it is expected that this year’s carrier’s CAPEX spending on mobile networks will accelerate, creating a growth momentum.  We will go from having just a few small 5G Private Network projects to many significant ones, which will be the trigger for new and innovative business models, equipment production, and new and emerging players in the 5G ecosystem.   

     If one thing can be sure, it is that embarking on deploying a transformational technology like 5G won’t be achieved without its fair number of hurdles. What needs to happen to change the narrative? We must recognize that there is a global race to 5G, and the U.S. is committed to winning it.  This is an exciting time, and we all should be thrilled to be witnessing this transformation as it happens. Women in Wireless will have unprecedented opportunities to take on leadership roles and prompt meaningful change on so many fronts.   Our time is now, let’s keep moving forward, learning, lifting each other up, and doing good work in our own circles.  Let’s create ripples we can be proud of!

  • 05 Apr 2022 4:39 PM | Anonymous

    Chrissy Robinson, Vice President, Business Development, Metro RF

    How long have you been a City Rep for WWLF and what is your territory/region?
    I have been a City Rep for three years.  My territory is Florida.

    Why did you join WWLF?
    I wanted to be part of an organization that kept women connected in the industry as well as offer an avenue to share experiences, contacts, and career opportunities.

    How has being a part of WWLF impacted you personally or professionally?
    Being part of WWLF has given me a safe place to speak freely and benefit from a form of collective empathy and strength. With women, it is simply wonderful to be able to have meaningful conversations around the daily struggles that women are facing without having to justify your emotions or fears. It has been a great place to network and meet new people that can relate to experiences within the industry.  What I love most about this group is the fabulous women and the diversity of thought.

    Where did you get your start in the industry? What is your current role?
    I started in the industry in 2012 as a recruiter with a staffing company in Chicago. I then moved into a sales position in 2014 where I gained experience within the industry with different companies over the years which eventually led me into my current role as a VP of Business Development.

    What is your favorite Quote? 
    “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it’s shining. Success is the sum of all small efforts repeated day in and day out. Happiness is the only thing that multiplies when you share it!”

    What does confidence mean to you?
    Confidence to me means you can face the biggest fears, problems and challenges in your life and rarely give up even when it means multiple tries. When you are confident, you are magnetic and untouchable! 

    What are your top 3 leadership lessons or advice?
    Leadership is not about authority, it’s the impact, influence and inspiration you have for your team.

  • 05 Apr 2022 4:34 PM | Anonymous

    Tim House and Matt Mandel of the Wireless Infrastructure Association joined the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum in March for a webinar to discuss the latest trends in the wireless industry and their thoughts on what 2022 might bring for the ecosystem. They touched on the industry’s workforce needs and various initiatives to address education and apprenticeship, as well as the impact the monumental infrastructure funding bill signed last year could have on the industry.

    House is Executive Vice President of WIA and leads WIA’s workforce development, meetings and events, and membership initiatives. Mandel is Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs. He oversees WIA’s outreach to federal, state, and local government officials regarding the need to accelerate the deployment of wireless infrastructure facilities and other issues that drive the wireless infrastructure industry’s legislative agenda.

    House noted WIA is heavily invested in workforce development programs, including helping to found the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) in 2014. The Department of Labor registered program now includes 67 employers, more than 2,500 apprentices and 12 approved occupations. As a designated industry intermediary with DoL, WIA is contracted to expand apprenticeships in the industry with a focus on attracting underrepresented populations.

    WIA also is working with a consortium of workforce-related organizations to build a Center of Excellence for apprenticeship and to improve strategic partnerships and systems. Finally, WIA created the Telecommunications Education Center (TEC) in 2016, which offers more than 35 educational courses that have been delivered more than 4,000 times during the past few years. House also highlighted a recent partnership WIA announced with Ohio State University to create 5G and telecom-related curriculum, a concept the association hopes to expand in an effort to reach young people in college, high school and earlier to inspire them to careers in telecommunications.

    “I'm really proud and incredibly driven to transform our workforce through training and education,” said House. “I believe doing so will have an impact on poverty and unemployment and ultimately improve people's lives.”

    House said a challenge the association has been focused on is articulating the career progression the wireless industry provides. During previous generations of network buildouts, the industry found people came in for a job and left for the next job or project when they were done. He said the industry should be inspiring them to build careers in the industry – starting as a drive tester and climbing a ladder to RF engineer or starting as a technician with a pathway to project management. These are well-paying jobs that a lot of people don’t know about, he said.

    “Our industry invests somewhere between $60 billion and $80 billion a year in our networks -- in building them, maintaining them, upgrading them,” said House. “And yet we don't have, by and large, an educational and workforce system that supports and inspires people to pursue careers in our industry.”

    House also noted a ‘striking’ shift in society’s perception of work in the wake of the pandemic. Work is no longer a time or place, he said, and an exodus from the workforce called ‘The Great Resignation’ has people leaving their jobs in droves for higher pay and better opportunities for advancement. The government is working to combat this trend with investments and initiatives such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will pump billions of dollars into the telecom industry aimed at closing the Digital Divide.

    Mandel broke down the mechanics of the broadband funding included in the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in December. The bill focused not only on traditional infrastructure but also digital infrastructure, including high-speed internet. The major issue WIA faced was whether the funding would be able to be used for wireless broadband as well as used for fiber builds.

    “We have nothing against fiber,” said Mandel. “But we had to go in and convince lots of members of Congress and people at the White House and at the FCC that if you want to truly bridge the Digital Divide … and bring broadband to places that have nothing in a faster timeframe … you need to have an all-of-the-above approach.”

    Funding will be distributed to states by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is working on a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that is due by the end of May. Each state will get a certain amount of money based on a formula that takes into account unserved and underserved communities. Once distributed, states will then award grants to companies and organizations to build out the networks.

    “We're hearing at state capitals and we're hearing from NTIA and from Commerce, including the Secretary of Commerce, that they want flexibility because the only way to bridge the Digital Divide is to have all technologies available,” said Mandel.

    A big part of advocating for the industry is educating policy-makers about the vital role wireless broadband plays in communities for education, telehealth and other vital services and to make sure legislation and regulations encourage deployment, innovation and competition.

    “We are enabling all of these great things that everyone always talks about -- Internet of Things, smart cities, artificial intelligence,” said Mandel. “It's all made possible through wireless 5G. Every job we create is a force multiplier for every other industry.”

    WIA is a national trade association that represents about 200 members that build, own or manage the nation’s communications infrastructure. Members include carriers, infrastructure owners, equipment manufacturers, and small- and medium-sized companies that service the ecosystem. In addition to its primary function of advocating for policies that support the rapid and responsible deployment of communications infrastructure, WIA also produces Connectivity Expo, which will be held May 23-26 in Denver.

    The webinar was hosted by Courtney Davis and Lynn Whitcher, co-executive directors of education for WWLF.

    Are you a member of WWLF and attending the Connectivity Expo in Denver? Use promo code CX22WWLF to receive 20% off all pass types at the Connectivity Expo.

  • 02 Mar 2022 10:15 PM | Anonymous

    Kristen Marano
    Business Development Manager- Renewables, Kineticom

    How long have you been a City Rep for WWLF and what is your territory/region?
    I am the WWLF City Representative for San Diego and have been in my position for a year

    Why did you join WWLF?
    As a newcomer to the industry, I was approached about the opportunity to join WWLF to network with more women in the space and learn more about the industry. My company, Kineticom Inc., actively supports Women in Wireless and encouraged me to apply for the WWLF San Diego City Representative position. WWLF immediately offered a network of women and educational sessions that support and encourage women to have a space in the industry. WWLF offers an incredible mentorship program to connect newcomers with established women in the space.

    How has being a part of WWLF impacted you personally or professionally?
    The WWLF mentorship program impacted me because it gave me the confidence to navigate industry events and be ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ in new spaces by not only my mentor, Sara but also my company, Kineticom and the WWLF network. My mentor, Sara Muehlberger, helped me grow professionally and personally throughout our monthly video meetings and is a person I proudly call a friend! Sara was a profound positive force in my first year in WWLF and encouraged me to bridge WWLF with my current position of Brand and Business Development Manager with Kineticom while also encouraging that it is OK to slow down and embrace hitting ‘pause’.

    WWLF requires City Reps to plan two events a year and I planned the first WWLF End of Summer Social in September of 2021. The event pushed me to grow professionally (finding 11 industry sponsors) and connect with key players of the 11 companies, especially women: Shout outs to Jennifer Hawk with Kineticom, Gabriella Bedor with TeleWorld Solutions, Cori Aluli with 5G LLC, Jennifer Winters with Tangent, and Gina Dorati with Wes-Tec. Shout out to the WWLF Events committee that made it happen: Laura Lora, Stella Nguyen Bezebah, and Michelle Salisbury. Shout out to the sponsors of the event who made it happen: Kineticom Inc., Helicore, Tarpon Towers, MasTec, TeleWorld Solutions, 5G LLC, Wes-Tec, Fibe-Con, EBI Consulting, Motive Infrastructure Solutions, Tangent Systems, and GSS Inc.

    Where did you get your start in the industry? What is your current role?
    I started in the industry with Kineticom Inc., a nationwide consulting and staffing firm in telecom and renewable energy. I am currently the Brand and Business Development Manager and oversee our Renewables Division. Kineticom encourages all employees to seek out industry networks. Our executive team is an unwavering support for organizations like WWLF.

    What is your favorite Quote?
    Carpe Diem.

    What are your top 3 leadership lessons or advice?
    -‘Set the table with your clients’
    -‘Never overpromise and under deliver’
    -‘You can’t be successful if you burn the candle at both ends all the time’

    What does confidence mean to you?
    Confidence to me is having a high level of self-awareness and being comfortable with not having all the answers. It also means establishing connections with all women in the industry, to include women in other competing companies. In a male dominated space, it is easy for women to overdo it by trying to prove themselves and compete against one another. A truly confident woman knows that she can be both successful in her job while also celebrating her competitors’ success. I appreciate organizations like WWLF and my company that encourage these connections among all women in the telecom space.

    What do you like to do outside of work?
    Much like my favorite quote, ‘Carpe Diem’, I think it is important for both mental and physical health to actively go after every day and see it as an opportunity. As the daughter of a Marine, I became an early riser and believe in the importance of waking up early and moving my body before the workday through boxing, Pilates, yoga, and running. You could find me hiking, trying a new restaurant, planning my next adventure, or relaxing on the beach. 

  • 02 Mar 2022 10:07 PM | Anonymous

    With the “Great Reshuffle” comes the “Great Hiring” and you have now found yourself one of the many workers starting a new job in 2022.  Changing jobs has become the norm in modern society and the pandemic heightened those shifts. U.S. workers have an average tenure of about 4.1 years with a single employer. 65% of American workers are actively searching for a new full-time job right now. (1) 

    Congratulations!  But now is not the time to rest on your laurels.  The first 90 days in a new role are crucial to setting yourself up for success, making strategic relationships, and contributing in a meaningful way to the company bottom line.  Well before you report in for your first meeting with your new supervisor, make a plan.  Even if you are not in a managerial or executive role, a 90 day plan should be created before you come on board and shared with the hiring manager during the interview process. Leadership consultant Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter states “By talking about how you would approach your first 90 days, you demonstrate agility and proactiveness.” (2)

    During your first three months in a new role, don’t rely on others to define your path or progress.  Take charge of your own professional development.  Part of your plan should include an assessment of the strengths that you bring, as well as the gaps where you will have to grow.  You can then obtain additional resources and education in order to accomplish those aspects of the role. (3) 

    Start an accomplishments journal NOW so you have tangible evidence to show what achieved in your first three months on the job and keep track so you have concrete evidence next time you are up for a promotion or just want to remind yourself of your progress.  Leadership and Career Coach Andrew Lacavita talks about this tool not only for promotion but also for succession planning. (4)

    The most important thing you can do in your first 90 days at a new company is to build a strategic network.  According to Harvard Business Review the key is to reach out across business units.   “The people who are the most productive, innovative, and engaged in new roles—the “fast movers”—are those who establish extremely broad, mutually beneficial, uplifting connections from the start. Specifically, they surge rapidly into a broad network; generate pull; identify how they add value, where they fall short, and who can fill the gaps; create scale; and shape their networks for maximum thriving.” (5)

    In a remote work environment, meeting co-workers and cross-functional team members can be difficult.  “When you are hired, you will most likely be given a list of initial people to meet with,” says Lisa Rangel, former recruiter and managing director of Chameleon Resumes . “Do LinkedIn and internet research to find other people to potentially meet with and ask in these initial meetings who on your list will be best to meet with first and get feedback.” Don’t wait for people to come to you. “Reach out to people at the company without a formal intro when possible.,” Rangel says. “Show initiative.” (6)

    Do you work in sales?  Consider a reach out to accounts payable, legal, or operations. Get to know different aspects of your new company.  Even if it seems awkward and random to send an invite to someone you don’t know, most people will be happy to tell you about their job and department.  Notice common interests next time you are on that virtual “all-hands” call, maybe a favorite sports team, plants, or pets.

    Lastly, remember to be thoughtful and kind to all of those who took time out of their busy day to show you the ropes and teach you new systems and processes, etc.  Get to know your co-workers and direct reports as people and don’t be afraid to show your excitement and enthusiasm for your new role! 


    (1)   21 Career Change Statistics [2022]: How Often Do People Change Jobs? – Zippia

    (2)   30-60-90 Day Plan: Ultimate Guide Plus Template | The Muse

    (3)  How to Rock Your First 90 Days on the Job - WorkMonger

    (4)  Get Promoted at Work by Tracking this Information

    (5)  How to Succeed Quickly in a New Role

    (6)  How to succeed in your first 90 days of a new job when you start remote | The Enterprisers Project

  • 03 Feb 2022 4:27 PM | Anonymous


    Reviewed by Lynn Whitcher, Co-Director of Education for WWLF

    On January 19, 2022, Julie DeCuypere and I had the pleasure of leading a book club discussion on Sukhinder Sing Cassidy’s book, Choose Possibility: Take Risks and Thrive (Even When You Fail).

    Sukhinder Singh Cassidy is a technology investor, executive and entrepreneur. She has worked with various tech and media companies, including Google, Amazon and News Corp, most recently serving as President of StubHub, guiding it through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as sporting events, concerts and other live entertainment were shut down, seemingly overnight, across the country. She is the founder of theBoardlist, a non-profit dedicated to improving corporate governance by increasing gender diversity on boards and Joyus, a video shopping platform for women.

    Singh Cassidy attributes her impressive career to her ability to take risks. She also acknowledges that taking risks is hard. To put risk into the proper perspective, we must see the possibility that lies beyond any success or failure along our risk-taking journey. Taking risks is necessary, not just to survive, but to thrive.

    For many of us, we assume – wrongly – that risk taking consists of a single leap that drives us either to success and glory, or to ruin. This puts massive pressure on us to get it right! The author calls this the “Myth of the Single Choice.” In reality, risk taking is less binary. The Jeff Bezoses of the world iterate their way to cumulative success through failures and achievement, stringing together a long series of choices, big and small, well advised or not. Although risk taking can result in bruised egos or loss of reputation, the upside is it can also lead to learning and insight, discovery of new opportunities, or even downright success!

    For many of us, we will take the leap into action and choose risk when our fear of missing out outweighs the fear of failure. So how do we conquer our fears? Study and plan the upside, but also understand the impact and import of the downside as well. It is helpful to see failure as either a one-way door (where you cannot come back from your decision) or a two-way door (where you can return and recover). Most decisions are in fact two-way doors, with a path forward and a path back. Very few choices permit no way of recovery so plan for contingencies.

    To become a great risk taker involves building risk taking muscle. Every day we delay taking risk, we put off our dreams. Every day we embrace taking risk, we are that much closer to achievement. Sing Cassidy challenges us to take risks today. This can be as simple as speaking up in a meeting or researching a new company or industry. Start now and look for opportunities to learn, grow, and discover every day. Once we get into execution mode, we will take risks in parallel putting multiple things in motion before we make larger choices. Think of it as applying to university, choosing safety schools and dream schools. Rarely do we lock ourselves into one outcome – we give ourselves options. It is no different when shaping our career.

    Before taking the leap to a bigger risk, it may be helpful to place yourself in proximity to your dream. If you want to become an entrepreneur, join a startup and spend time learning from the founders. If want to transition to new sector, take meetings with people in the industry. Apprentice in the things you do not understand. Do not plan from afar.  

    Surround yourself with the right people. Not only do you benefit from the support of leaders, professional coaches, or other personal champions, but great people tend to attract opportunity, receiving offers they cannot take. They often pass on these leads to folks in their networks who have performed well for them. This is why bosses, colleagues, and associates are our single best career network.

    Whether you are working towards your next promotion, thinking about starting your own company, or looking for a career change, you have myriad opportunities to move yourself closer to your dream. Chose to move again and again and you will benefit from compounding benefits, taking hundreds, if not thousands of risks throughout the course of your career.

    In the end, it is not what we achieve that makes us successful. It is our ability to keep taking risks, creating impact, and adapting as we go. Hopefully, as we rise, we bring along others with us on our way up.

    To find about our next book read, or other WWLF events, check out our website.

  • 03 Feb 2022 4:20 PM | Anonymous

    Kelly Brcka, Director, Real Estate Partnerships, Airwavz Solutions, Inc.

    How long have you been a City Rep for WWLF and what is your territory/region?
    I became Dallas City Rep in April 2021

    Why did you join WWLF?
    I originally joined WWLF several years ago when I was with a wireless staffing/services company because I saw WWLF at several industry events and respected the board members and leaders.  Then, I recently rejoined WWLF as I re-entered the wireless industry to network, meet and get reacquainted with the amazing women leaders in our industry.

    How has being a part of WWLF impacted you personally or professionally? 
    Professionally it has been a solid network of smart, compassionate and driven women always willing to open the doors of opportunity and connect the dots for people in our industry.  Personally, it has been a great experience truly getting to know some of these women, what is going on in their lives and to share stories.  I have also thoroughly enjoyed the mentoring aspect and recommend that to anyone willing and able to devote the time and experience to the next generation.

    Where did you get your start in the industry?
    Wow, that was so long ago but I originally went to Lucent Technologies/Nokia straight from grad school then on to Nortel.  After that, I had a long stint in the energy business and re-joined our wireless world in 2013 with Smartlink, then GTL and All States Engineering.

    What is your current role?
    Currently I am very happy at Airwavz as Director, Real Estate Partnerships providing solutions for in-building.

    What is your favorite Quote?
    I have two:  Be Fearless is the Pursuit of What Sets Your Soul on Fire by Jennifer Lee and the second is:  Nothing is impossible.  The word itself says "I'm possible". by Audry Hepburn.  I just love her!

    How do you define success?
    I have two quotes that answer this best:  Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it by Maya Angelou (love several of her quotes of wisdom) and the spiritual answer is Success is the fulfillment of divine purpose, while prosperity is having enough divine provision to overcome obstacles!

    How would you describe yourself in three words?
    Tenacious, positive, driven, empathetic - oops is that four?  : )

    What do you like to do outside of work?
    LOVE anything associated with the water: watching beautiful sunsets on the boat is the very best.....lake, ocean, pool........ I also adore my Schipperke named Bella and I have picked up a knack for gardening, painting and decorating during CoVid.....see it can bring out creativity.

  • 03 Feb 2022 4:16 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Kristen Beckman

    There’s no doubt that video conferencing platforms like Zoom have made a huge difference in maintaining productivity and allowing business to continue since the COVID-19 pandemic all but shut the world down two years ago. Now, with the pandemic stretching far beyond the temporary disruption we initially expected, many workplaces have adapted to a new permanent normal. Hybrid and fully remote work situations have become increasingly common, and as a result, video conferencing is likely to remain a staple of business communications even after the pandemic wanes.

    According to Pew Research, more than 80 percent of Americans communicated via video calls during the beginning of the pandemic, driven significantly by the demands of business being done remotely. About 20 percent of Americans reported using video platforms often and 12 percent said the were on video calls several times a day. Initially, there was hope that virtual platforms would be an equalizer in the workplace, but while video conferencing has been an important productivity tool, it also has highlighted some interesting and perhaps unanticipated gender gaps and psychological consequences.

    Virtual meeting environments can diminish nonverbal cues that enhance the pace and collaboration of in-person meetings, and that can exacerbate inequalities women tend to experience. Studies have found that in general, women are more frequently interrupted in meetings and are viewed as too emotional or less competent than their male counterparts when they speak passionately about a topic or talk more often on a call. In a recent survey by Catalyst of 1,100 U.S. working adults, 45 percent of women business leaders say it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings and one in five women say they’ve felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls. 

    In addition, video conferencing also could be putting an unequal amount of pressure on women to appear ‘put together’ while working remotely. Women tend to be evaluated on their appearance differently than men, a dynamic that is exacerbated by the extreme focus on participants’ faces during virtual meetings. In fact, some plastic surgeons have reported that requests for face and neck treatments have increased during the pandemic.

    Only 55 percent of women currently working from home due to COVID-19 say they’re likely to always or sometimes enable video during video-conference meetings, compared to 65 percent of men, according to a Harris Poll. When women do intend to use video, they prepare. Eighty-five percent do their hair versus 74 percent of men, and 80 percent of women will change what they’re wearing as opposed to 71 percent of their male counterparts.

    Women may also face different perceptions about their dual roles as professionals and parents during remote work, a fact that is made visually apparent in video calls. When men show off their children at work during such a call, it often is perceived as a sign of strength and endearment, whereas when women share their children in the work environment, it can be seen as a weakness or a distraction. Women, who are often responsible for more of the domestic work in the U.S., often turn their video off while trying to juggle work and parenting responsibilities.

    Meanwhile, billions of conversations that would have been conducted face to face before the pandemic have instead been done by video. This has led to increased concerns about potential psychological effects, and scientists have been studying why video conferencing has such a marked impact on employees.

    Video conferencing can literally be exhausting, and this has given rise to a new phenomenon referred to as Zoom Fatigue. It can impact everyone who spends much of their day in virtual gatherings, but particularly women.

    One recent study found that women report greater fatigue than men related to video conferencing, perhaps because women tend to have longer virtual meetings with shorter breaks in-between. The study also looked at nonverbal mechanisms associated with video conferencing that may cause Zoom Fatigue. For instance, an increase in viewing an image of oneself during virtual meetings can lead to something called mirror anxiety caused by self-focused attention.

    Another mechanism that can lead to Zoom Fatigue is the feeling of being physically trapped by a need to stay within the field of view of the camera during meetings. Reduced mobility, said the report, can decrease cognitive performance and limit the type of multitasking that was more prevalent during pre-pandemic voice conferences. The phenomenon of ‘hyper gaze’ is another exhausting element of video conferences, said the report. During in-person meetings, participants tend to follow the speaker in the room with their eyes, but during virtual meetings, all participants have the unnatural feeling of constantly being stared at by everyone, which can lead to anxiety.

    While more research is needed, the study suggests Zoom Fatigue might be mitigated by adopting policies around video conferencing, such as implementing time limits on video calls and specifying that some virtual meetings or subsets of those meetings be conducted without video.

    What have you noticed about video conferencing during the pandemic? Tell us at LinkedIn.

  • 02 Jan 2022 11:37 AM | Anonymous

    Lynn Whitcher

    We have all been there – sitting at a business conference (virtually or IRL) facing a(nother) line-up of all-male panelists (a.k.a. the “manel”).[1] Despite years of increased conversations around diversity in the workplace, the percentage of women speakers has not significantly shifted.[2]

    We are long past the point where industry leaders need to be convinced of the value of diversity. Diversity drives business performance.[3] Full stop. This is because different voices and different ways of thinking are critical to innovation and effective problem-solving.

    If diversity is so critical to business success, why the continued preponderance of the all-male industry conference panel?

    Certainly, there is something to be said for conference planners taking the easy path and looking solely within their current network or past speakers lists to find panelists.

    However, there are industry groups, state wireless associations, regional conferences, and trade publications looking to highlight new and different speakers. From my perspective chairing and volunteering on various educational committees, we need to do a better job of connecting conference planners with fresh ideas and new perspectives.

    Here are my tips for conference planners, employers, and prospective speakers to help capitalize on these invaluable opportunities and support diverse thought leadership in our industry:

    1.) Conference Planners: Ensure diversity of thought on your panels by having a diverse conference planning team. Reach out to diverse organizations and educational institutions to help identify experts outside your immediate network. If your educational committee has not had any recent additions, find new volunteers to help inject a new perspective. (PS: it is really hard to find good volunteers for these committees).

    2.) Employers: Encourage employees to volunteer for conference committees and help support their travel and related expenses for the show. This is really a win-win for both the employee and the employer. Not only do volunteers often get free or reduced tickets to the show, but they often get early management experience planning the conference while simultaneously connecting with thought leaders and industry experts who are happy to share their insights with the next generation of leaders. This helps prepare the employee to take on increased responsibilities at the office, while also highlighting the company as a great place to work.

    3.) Thought Leaders: If you are approached to speak on a panel, champion diverse talent. I love hearing about thought leaders who require the conferences they speak at prominently feature women and other diverse experts.[4] This level of support from the establishment is critical to bring change to the status quo.

    4.) Future Speakers: Leverage your network. You probably did not get where you are today by waiting for people to hand you your next opportunity. It is no different with speaking engagements. Look within your network for opportunities to share your knowledge. WWLF, for example, has an open call for speakers on its website (visit: Fill out the form, talk to a Board member so we have an understanding of your background and experience, and see where things go!

    For more strategies, check out this LinkedIn post.

    About the author: Lynn Whitcher is General Counsel for MD7. She serves as Co-Director of Education for Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum; Education Committee Chair for California Wireless; and on the speaker committee for Wireless West.

    [1] I take neither credit nor blame for this term. I did not coin this phrase and a quick internet search did not reveal its origin.

    [2]  Kathy Gurtchiek, Female Speakers Underrepresented at Professional Gatherings (January 14, 2020) “The representation of women as speakers and panelists at conferences and summits is low across most industries and types of gatherings, according to an analysis of more than 60,000 event speakers.”

    [3] McKinsey & Company, Delivering through Diversity (2018)

    [4] For example, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, stated: “Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences. Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part. I challenge other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same.”

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