Women's History Month: Obstacles in Digital

March 14, 2023 - by
womens history month, vivienne hsu, katelyn glass, deborah keltner, rhonda giedt, stephanie brooks, melissa moody

It's no secret that women have faced numerous challenges throughout history. Each March, inspiring women are rightfully showcased during the month, whether they're known for historical movements or new innovations. There are so many amazing and talented women in the world, but let's focus on the world of digital.


Like many other professional spaces, the tech industry is no exception to gender bias. But with so many female executives and trailblazers, comes a multitude of women who continue to overcome these struggles. We spoke with six influential women in the digital space and asked them for input on the challenges they experience and how they overcome them.



Vivienne Hsu
CEO, Partner, Anabasis Partners
The greatest adversity I have faced as a woman in digital and tech is that I couldn’t possibly be strategic. I was young and Asian, so most of my team leaders and executives put me into the 'doer' category. I was seen as organized and detail-orientated, so I couldn’t possibly be strategic and innovative as well. Getting through and proving those assumptions wrong was really tough, and it took a long time before my managers would consider seeing me differently. In some cases, I had to move roles and organizations to start somewhere new to be seen differently. Finding my voice after being penned in took some time but once I got some good mentors and advocates, I was able to build different opportunities to show I was a strategic leader.
Deborah Keltner
VP of Marketing, Valence Group
“I think the biggest obstacle that women face in tech is unconscious bias. These hidden beliefs show up across gender lines and often result in unintentional constraints. Unconscious bias shows up at every stage of the employee experience, from early mentorship to candidacy, to interviews, negotiations, onboarding, performance evaluation, and eligibility for advancement. Even allies for women are nurturing unconscious and uninterrogated biases. It's a massive challenge.”
Katelyn Glass
Founder and CEO, Fifty-Six
“The digital landscape is relatively new (in the grand scheme of things) and a lot of us have on-the-job training versus a formal education. ‘Digital Marketing’ wasn’t a thing, let alone a major when I went to uni. That said, one of the major obstacles has been the lack of female leaders and mentors for digital marketers, specifically at the leadership level.That’s why we at Fifty Six are focused on education and elevating the future female leaders of the industry in hopes to change that going forward.”
Melissa Moody
Co-founder and CMO, Gated
Balancing the expectations that come from all sides.  Our mothers’ generation fought for our ability to do it all, so we think we have to and can do it all at once.  And that places a heavy burden that often results in feeling like you’re failing on all fronts.  My strongest suggestion to overcome/blast through that emotional burden is to ‘see yourself through others’ eyes.'  We’re always our own harshest judge.  Listen to your friends, your peers, your colleagues, and celebrate all that you do well, instead of dwelling on what you’re missing.
Stephanie Brooks
Chief Marketing Officer, PATHS Program LLC
“The biggest challenge of moving from a manager to director, and now as a senior leader, is having the confidence that I deserve a seat at the table. Oversharing metrics is one way I prove to myself that I belong there— as if the more results I produce, the more ROAS I deliver will make me the expert in my area, and therefore a more competent leader. I’ve been lucky to connect with peer mentor groups where we can share challenges and opportunities, and cheer each other on. Knowing that there are other women in digital who’ve got my back (and I’ve got theirs) has helped me to shush my imposter syndrome and lead with confidence.”
Rhonda Giedt
Fractional CMO, Straight Talk Marketing | Portfolio Advisor, Hatchet Ventures
“Creating a personal brand that showcased my experience while still being approachable is a challenge that I have faced and continue to do so. I feel the way to overcome it is to trust and be yourself. You can’t please everyone, and even though we have all heard that phrase, it bears repeating. Make yourself happy and the rest will fall into place.”

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