Spotlight on Women in Tech: Jennah Michalik of Quadrant Group

24 March 2020

Sean Robinson

Women in Tech,

At License Dashboard we are, and always have been passionate about creating and maintaining a diverse place of work. One of our employees has been working with the Women in Technology Community by building a space where women can support each other, share advice and work to narrow the gender gap.

We asked some esteemed women within the IT industry to tell us a bit about their experiences within the workplace. Here’s what Jennah Michalik of Quadrant said:

When did you first start in the IT industry and what drew you to it?

My first encounter with the IT industry was right out of Law School. The first position I took as a consultant was to review an organization’s Software Agreements, in preparation for a data center migration. The gentleman interviewing me was very skeptical and made it ever so clear by his last question… Why do you want to review Software Agreements? Being over prepared for the interview, I paused ever so momentarily before answering. My response was rather simple, because the world of IT, especially software, is always changing and I love to learn. Being able to find a niche in Software Agreements, becoming versed on their unique terms and governing laws has kept me on my toes ever since.

As a woman, have you faced any challenges within working environments?

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t faced challenges in the workplace. However, so often its only after the fact, that I realize it was a challenge based on gender. Not that I run around with rose (female equality) tinted glasses but in today’s pro equality message driven environment, its not the first conclusion I jump to. I can very vividly remember one specific instance where I was invited to a meeting of all higher ups. When I entered the room, I quickly noticed all the older men filing in and seated at the table. One of them actually asked me to get him some coffee… Being the presenter for the meeting I politely smiled, stood up and addressed the room “Lets get started.” Being a young female in a heavily dominated male industry isn’t easy and comes with challenges of all sizes. Showing up over prepared and always willing to speak up has helped me tackle most if not all of them head on.

It’s now well known that a lot of industries have been highlighted due to pay gaps between men and women, do you think this is the same within the IT industry?

Yes! Yes! Yes! But I do not want to place the blame on men, instead I want to turn to all my fellow female colleagues in IT and ask how did the negotiations go when you took your current position? When was the last time you asked your boss for a raise? We women need to speak up. We need to be better negotiators. We need to do our homework study what other professionals, regardless of gender, are getting paid for the same or similar role. We need to be fearless and ask for pay raises. We need to be doing all we can to close this gap for good.

In recent years there has been an influx of women in all workplaces, but it’s not equal to men, men are 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position than women. Why do you think this is and what can organizations do to prevent discrimination and maintain equality when looking at hiring, salaries and promotions?

Women – each of us in the workplace play a vital role in how the future looks for our fellow female colleagues. Women, I have read, are much more likely to keep other women down because of the struggles they went through to get where they are. Women feel that other women need to work just as hard and go through just as much to deserve the next seat. When in fact, this outlook couldn’t be more wrong. Women in power need to be advocates and take ownership in the solution to this question and start reaching down and pulling up!

Women in power need to be advocates and take ownership in the solution to this question and start reaching down and pulling up!

What resources and support are available for women in IT?

IAITAM – The International Association of IT Asset Managers has been a wonderful resource for me, as women in IT.

What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt as a women in the IT industry?

The biggest lesson I have learned as a woman in IT is to “know more.” Doing my homework, asking questions and continuing to learn is one way to be taken seriously and start knocking down stereotypes and negative stigmas.

What is your favourite part of working in the IT industry?

The people! Cut from so many different fabrics, the people in the IT industry are unlike any other industry. They are innovators, dreamers and problem solvers. Consistently, having to work as a team leveraging people from developers to lawyers, to accomplish goals and deliver solutions. The IT industry is one quilt of people I am proud to be part of.

The IT industry is one quilt of people I am proud to be part of.

What’s the biggest professional challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

My biggest professional challenge in IT, was learning all the lingo. Being thrown into the IT world, with minimal computer experience, short of using Microsoft Office, the words server, socket, core, pvu, spvu, proc, dev, virtual, concurrent use, metering, device license, named user license etc. were foreign. My role as an attorney was to review and negotiate agreements on behalf of organizations to ensure compliance (among other risk aversions). So as you can imagine, not understanding what these words meant or what a particular software did, how or where it ran, who was using it and how it was managed were all things I needed to learn and appreciate. I overcame this hurdle by seeking out and acquiring marvelous teachers. I would call developers, business owners, procurement professionals and ask a ton of questions. It became the norm for the IT developers to bring multiple colored markers to my meetings so they could draw out pictorial diagrams for me. They would keep tally of how many questions I would ask during a single meeting and joke with me afterwards if it was over or under the previous meeting. Each of these individuals, whether they knew it or not, helped me carve out my niche in the IT world as a SAM IT Lawyer and I am forever grateful! I truly love what I do!

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to women starting out in the IT industry?

Treat every opportunity as a learning opportunity – meetings, projects, emails, presentations – and ask questions!

Keep an eye out for the next blog in the Women in Technology series and if you would like to take part, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Sean is a pioneer of SAM with over 20 years’ experience in software licensing compliance. He developed our industry leading, software asset and license management tool, License Manager, delivering SAM services to some of the largest companies in the world.

Sean Robinson

Further reading