At the Texas Conference for Women on Wednesday, Bobbi Dangerfield, a senior vice president of Dell Technologies, shared her experience of being a woman in the tech industry at the "Redefining Leadership: The Core Behaviors of Successful Leaders" panel.
Dangerfield, who worked at IBM before Dell, said she was the first female hardware manager in IBM in Fort Worth. Initially, the company culture had trouble adjusting.
“The minute I started [at this position], my manager started to get calls from our customers, saying ‘what are you thinking? This is a woman, we’ve never had a woman,'" Dangerfield said. "These are good old boys in these companies. They all came to work in cowboy boots, it was that kind of environment.”
Dangerfield said that her boss warned her there would be some resistance to her employment.
“My boss called me and he said, ‘hey, I think you need to know that this is the environment that you’re walking into.’" Dangerfield said. "I went home that night and I told my husband, 'I think this is it, I’m not sure I’m going to last thirty days in this job, I don’t know what to do.'”
Dangerfield said it was difficult to adjust at first, but after six months' time her customers had warmed to her. The reason it took so long is because they expected certain shortcomings with a woman at the helm.
“I’ve never been in a place where people didn’t want me in that position on the client’s side,” Dangerfield said. “What they were worried about is that as a woman, I wouldn’t want to take that 2 AM call and get out of bed and get in my car and drive somewhere and all of these things.”
Ultimately, being a woman helped her in her position.
“I think being a woman helped me get hired because I was setting a precedent, but I was also able to blaze the trail in that piece of the world, and now there’s been a number of woman who followed in those footsteps," Dangerfield said.
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