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Wendy Hanamura

Opinions  •  
Mar 08, 2022
 • logged_by: Hannah Loskamp

Using storytelling to achieve positive social change is Wendy’s passion, as well as helping visionaries to realize their dreams. Concerning technology, Wendy helped launch a new movement for a decentralized, private and secure web that gives control back to its users.

We are happy to share this conversation with Wendy on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022. Read how her first job taught her the hard way what matters if you want to succeed as a woman in a male-dominated job, and how she would encourage young women to pursue a career in tech or IT. Finally, Wendy shares why she would like to sit down for dinner with Angela Merkel and Michelle Obama. Thank you Wendy for this inspiring conversation! We are glad you do what you do and hope you keep up with the good work to be an inspiration for many more women!

What was your first job, and what did it teach you?

My first job was as a reporter-researcher for TIME Magazine in New York. It was the 80s and the organization was very hierarchical and dominated by men. Women were pretty much segregated into support roles and no woman had ever risen to a senior editorial position. It was eye-opening! After coming from school which felt more egalitarian, the work world was a rude awakening. It taught me that the world would not be a meritocracy and to succeed I would need to break a lot of entrenched, unconscious patterns of promotion and advancement.

Do you have a female rolemodel?

Both my best and my worst boss ever have both been women. At the positive end of the scale, women have been nurturing, honest, and willing to invest in my growth—not for the sake of the organization, but for my sake.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

At one company, my female CEO invited three women department heads to lunch at her house. It was a lovely lunch and I remember one piece of advice she gave us that day: don’t ever wait for your boss to offer you a raise or promotion again. If you want it, you have to ask for it. All three of us had been promoted or offered raises by this CEO, but none of us had gone to her to request it. Why? We were scared of being turned down. It’s important to overcome that fear of rejection if you want to become a leader.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about a career in tech or IT?

When you arrive at an organization, don’t be surprised to find the leadership in technical fields 100% male and overwhelmingly white. It will feel impossible to break through, but it’s not. Find allies in unexpected places and don’t be afraid to ask for your own advancement.

If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be (and why)?

Michelle Obama

Eleanor Roosevelt

Angela Merkel

In the case of Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt, they took a support role and made it really matter; they overcame incredible prejudice and resistance to find their own voice. Angela Merkel showed you can rule a country—even the European Union—with a rational, even hand and succeed.