I Have a Voice: Empowering Women in Tech

I have come to learn that there are a multitude of life lessons college does not fully prepare you for, and while I had interned at Cisco the previous summer – I was still nervous about beginning my full-fledged career at a company that’s prominence in our global community is impressive, and thus intimidating.

To add to those nerves fluttering around in my stomach, I was not quite yet aware what I would be doing at Cisco once I started – I just knew that I would be one of few women in a male-dominated space. With no sense of the culture within this particular organization, and no known experience in this field – my trepidation was rampant.

But when I started at Cisco, I realized my fears had been unfounded.

My first day and on-boarding process were supported by a variety of individuals throughout my new organization – the Trust Strategy Office (TSO). Many stood out to me, but those that stood out the most were the women of our team!

I have read and studied previously that there is a continuous phenomenon in regard to the presence of women in a male-dominated workplace. This phenomenon cultivates the idea that women are often pitted against each other, ultimately facilitating a toxic, competitive environment.

So, along with my nerves of first day at a new job, not knowing the culture on this team, and knowing I would be one of few women in a male-dominated team – I also wondered if I would have to create a certain work persona or I would even be able to trust my coworkers as a result of that competitive phenomenon.

Luckily, that is not the case at Cisco.

The last thing I expected was to come into my first day at Cisco and discover a number of surprises. The first was witnessing the varying experience levels amongst the other women in my organization. Some of my colleagues have been with Cisco for over a decade. Others have only been around for a couple of years. Despite these varying levels of experience though, each of these women has a voice!

They not only play a specific role within their team, but they also contribute to the way our organization is working to improve our overarching culture.

I came to realize that despite these varying levels of experience, all of these women were still learning Cisco. Most importantly, they were vocal about the learning curve so many of us experience from time to time.

As a result, my second surprise upon starting at Cisco came with the openness these women maintained with me, the transparency they welcomed me with.

Each and every one of these women acknowledged the fact that I was new. They also assured me that our organization would benefit from the observations of an individual with fresh eyes. Again, even though I interned with Cisco, I was still unfamiliar with the company and what comprised its workplace environment within different organizations.

However, that did not mitigate the women of TSO’s support of me and my role at Cisco. Rather, they perceived my role as one with influence and impact. This is something I am still struggling to grasp – that I, too, have a voice in this organization despite my lack of experience.

Through this, I have been encouraged to move past that hesitation –  to speak and ask questions. Each and every one of my teammates genuinely want to hear what I have to say about the company, what I observe, and what I believe can be improved.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that it’s vital to facilitate these supportive, empowering relationships in the first place as the phenomenon of the competitive workplace, particularly amongst women, certainly exists. The women in my organization are completely aware of that very phenomenon.

It’s because of that awareness though, they strive every day to combat it. They strive to set a precedent across Cisco to facilitate growth amongst any and all employees.

Despite being new to Cisco, I have come to learn that there are a variety of ways one can become successful at what they do. I am still learning as I go, and I am sure I will continue to learn the ins and out of Cisco for quite some time. One thing that I cannot stress enough is to be conscious of who works alongside you – you never know what experience they might have, or what you might learn from each other.

What motivates me to come to the office every single day is these positive relationships with my co-workers that I’m still establishing. I love that there are people here who truly want me to succeed, and they push me forward.

We are all on the same team – Team Cisco! – and when we empower each other to excel, great things happen!

Want to join our amazing teams? We’re hiring. Apply now.



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11 Comments

  1. Welcome Maite! It was such a pleasure to speak with you the other day. Thank you for writing about your experiences, what a testament to the wonderful people we have at Cisco and in our org! And – shameless plug – I hope you will join our DIRT volunteer program, we are always looking for folks with drive, passion and energy such as yourself.

  2. The Mighty Maite… Thanks for sharing your story through strength in vulnerability. I look forward to continue to watch you learn and grow while you continue to stretch and teach us.

  3. Love this! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Nicely done Maite. I'm privileged to have you as a teammate!

  5. Maite, well done! You have been a fantastic addition to Cisco. You bring a fresh perspective to the team as well as a curiosity that leads you to explore areas that are new or unique to you. It will be fun to watch you grow throughout your career as the opportunities are endless for you. Keep using your voice and passion to make a difference. Great article.

  6. What a fantastic article. Thank you for sharing your perspective! Incredibly proud to have you as a part of the team.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience, Maite! This reinforces the value of Cisco's inclusive culture while emphasizing the need for each of us to do our part in facilitating an open and supportive environment.

  8. Amazing narration. Must read for ECN folks in Cisco. Congratulations on making a great transition into the role

  9. What a great blog, Maite! As a Cisco veteran, learning that you have had such a positive experience makes me proud. I look forward to meeting you and hope to work with you sometime. Don't lose your voice, it is valued.

  10. Maite, phenomenal article that speaks volumes, especially to our team. Arm in arm, we are all here to inspire, invigorate and empower each of us to strive and accomplish more than what we could ever imagine. You my friend, do this for me. They say it takes a "village" and I am honored to be surrounded by such intellect, talent, brilliance and creativity…#WeAreCISCO

  11. Great article. Love the call out of relationship building and that at the end of the day we're all on the same team. Glad you had a great onboarding experience and women to swoop in early to uplift you.