The Women of Learning and Development (L&D) conference hosted by the Training, Learning, and Development Community (TLDC) last week was the largest event so far, selling out at 1,000 seats. It was a truly amazing, inspiring, and altogether powerful two days packed with insightful career tips all women should know.
If you missed it, don’t fret. I’m recapping my key takeaways in this post with lots of quotes from the speakers. In addition, TLDC has shared the recordings, and they’re available for everyone!
If you’re not a woman, you will still find words of wisdom in these recordings that you can apply to your life and career. And if you’re thinking you don’t have time to watch the replays, I’ll ask you to pay special attention to tip #3.
Below is a list of the nine sessions in the order in which they were presented. You can access the recordings on TLDC’s website.
- “No Thank You”: Setting Healthy Boundaries as a Woman, with Bela Gaytan
- Mentorship Matters: Empowering Women to Reach Their Full Potential, panel discussion with Kayleen Holt, Devin Torres, Gwen Navarrate-Klapperich, Toddi Norum, Alison Sollars, Christine Thomas, and Wendi Iacobello
- Avoiding Stereotypes of Muslim Women in eLearning Solutions, with Dr. Saeide Mirzaei
- Rethinking Time and Calendar Management, with Christina Archer
- Get Paid What You’re Worth, with Christy Tucker
- Navigating Feminine Politeness Norms in Professional Settings, panel discussion with Mallori Steele, Zainab Hafiz, Dr. Joan Reverón-Vélez, Tara Rohrbach, Tameka J. Harris, and Bela Gaytan
- Overcoming Barriers to Entry: How to Break into Leadership Roles, panel with Mallori Steele, Nora Pykkonnen, Caroline Dumont, Courtney Teague
- Knowing Your Worth, with Kassy LaBorie and Betty Dannewitz
- Survival and Success Strategies for New Learning Leaders, with Laurel Schulert
And now let’s move on to my key takeaways: seven career tips all women should know.
1. Know your worth.
Betty Dannewitz and Kassy LaBorie began their session by quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” So, when our feelings of self-worth are low, Betty asked us to consider what we’ve been consenting to.
Betty, who has done a series of podcasts on Imposter Syndrome, advised us not to listen to that inner voice that says we’re inferior, not ready, or not good enough. That voice, as she put it, “is a liar.” She shared a story about a job where she was given an office in a supply room in the basement, Office Space style. That moment of being in the basement made her realize that she was worth more.
Knowing our worth can help ensure that we’re paid equitably. Kassy told a story about interviewing for a marketing position. Because of her impressive skillset, they encouraged her to interview for a training position. When she got the job, they offered her $10,000 less than the marketing position. Shocked, she reminded them that she was told she was too skilled for the other position that paid more, and she started to leave. In the end, she was offered $15,000 more than the marketing position.
Christy Tucker shared average L&D salaries and rates, giving us data points to negotiate more for ourselves. In true Christy Tucker style, the information was well-researched from multiple sources (which she also shared). She also gave advice for negotiating a higher salary or higher freelancing rates, and she discussed the importance of pay transparency—such as sharing salary ranges in job postings—because the 13% gender pay gap between men and women is “a systemic problem that requires systemic solutions.”
2. Walk in your purpose.
Another key point reiterated throughout the conference was that we need to reflect on who we are and what we are passionate about, and then we need to act accordingly.
In the panel called “Overcoming Barriers to Entry: How to Break into Leadership Roles,” the panel advised us to consider why we want to be in a leadership role, rather than assuming that’s the natural career trajectory for success.
Bela Gaytan advised us to write down a detailed description of our idea day to visualize our ideal life and develop our vision and mission. Then she taught us how to set boundaries that help us live that ideal life. Laurel Schulert also discussed the importance of a vision and mission, as well as core values.
We need to understand what we’re passionate about, what we love doing, and make sure that our actions align with those things. Then, we need to unapologetically go after what we want.
3. Make yourself a priority.
Walking in our purpose requires us to make ourselves a priority. Christina Archer shared her vision board which focuses on her word of the year: “intentional.” She reminded us of the importance of being intentional with our time.
Laurel Schulert pointed out that for women learning leaders, developing yourself can “slip to the bottom of your to-do list,” getting lost in the never-ending list of tasks we must do each day. But, as Christina said, each of us only has 168 hours in a week, so if you don’t prioritize yourself, “those hours are going to be consumed by the things you didn’t want to do.”
4. Set boundaries.
Bela Gaytan talked about how women are always expected to be nurturing and understanding, and we are conditioned to not have boundaries. She pointed out the disparity between how the patriarchy treats women and men when we set boundaries. But, as she said, “prioritizing your time, energy, and happiness is essential for a fulfilling and healthy life.” We shouldn’t feel like we’re letting someone down when we set healthy boundaries for ourselves.
Bela shared an example of a personal boundary she has set: She doesn’t go to parties where things are being sold. When she declines an invitation, she’s not saying she doesn’t want to spend time with the person who invited her, or that she hates Tupperware or Mary Kay or Pampered Chef. She’s just communicating a boundary.
A few participants shared in chat that they set boundaries in their email signature, such as communicating their preferred communication style. Christy Tucker discussed how she sets boundaries when pricing projects for clients. She shared a story of a prospective client who turned down her price, found a cheaper instructional designer overseas, and then came back to Christy because she was unhappy with the quality of work she received. However, she still wanted a lower price, and Christy let her walk away. As she put it, “It is not my responsibility to fix her poor business decision.”
The next time you’re frustrated with a situation, ask yourself what boundaries you could establish to keep from feeling this way in the future. Then be sure to communicate those boundaries to the people in your life. And keep communicating them because consistency is key.
5. Learn from setbacks.
Several of the speakers talked about working through rejection and handling failures. They spoke about looking for the opportunity that rejection and failure provide—considering what they can teach us.
Betty Dannewitz advised allowing yourself “24 hours to feel shitty” after a rejection. She said, “You have to feel what you feel.” After that, “get your big girl panties on and remember that rejection is just redirection. . . . It’s painful in the moment, but it takes pain to grow. Growing is painful.”
Caroline Durmont told a story about experiencing a setback and receiving support from a mentor who told her, “You can’t see every setback as a failure.” Courtney Teague also discussed creating your own opportunities when someone else tells you no.
Kassy LaBorie described feeling jealous when another virtual training expert wrote a book. Even though she had recently published a new book herself, her thought was “Why didn’t I write that book?” She has learned to say, “Oh, I’ve just received a gift in the form of jealousy.” She asks herself why she’s having that reaction, and she now looks at jealousy as a data point for determining what she needs to do.
6. Cheer each other on!
Both days of the conference were filled with women encouraging each other and amplifying each other’s voices. This is what we need to be doing every single day. As tennis legend Serena Williams said, “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”
In addition to the panel discussion I facilitated about mentoring, several of the speakers mentioned the importance of building relationships with other women and helping other women in their journey.
As Christy Tucker discussed, even though L&D is a women-dominated career field, fewer women make up senior-level positions. This may contribute to a scarcity mindset, but as Betty Dannewitz put it, “there is not a shortage of space for us.” Rather than being competitive with other women, we need to lift each other up.
7. Be inclusive.
We can’t truly lift up fellow women without being inclusive. Many of the speakers modeled inclusivity by providing visual descriptions for accessibility, and the schedule included a diverse array of speakers.
Part of being inclusive involves being mindful of the language that we use, not only when speaking to and about others but also when speaking about ourselves. As women, we have internalized misogynistic language, and we need to work on removing that language from our own vocabularies. Tara Rohrbach said it best:
Dr. Saeide Mirzaei reminded us of the importance of lifting up other women, particularly those who are often excluded. Her session focused on avoiding stereotypes of Muslim women, and she shared common pitfalls and tips for avoiding them.
Saeide also gave a shout-out to the Inclusive Learning Pledge that I wrote with input from her and several others, and she reminded us of the responsibility that we in L&D have for inclusivity.
To recap my recap, here is the list of the seven career tips all women should know:
- Know your worth.
- Walk in your purpose.
- Make yourself a priority.
- Set boundaries.
- Learn from setbacks.
- Cheer each other on!
- Be inclusive.
As a special note, Dr. Saeide Mirzaei has begun an educational initiative called Woman Life Freedom, which is focused on empowering the woman-led revolution in Iran. If you would like to volunteer your L&D skills to help with the project, reach out to her or Bela Gaytan on LinkedIn.
Recaps of Past Women of L&D Events
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my recaps of the 2021 and 2022 Women of L&D events. The 2021 Women of L&D conference was my introduction to TLDC, and I’ve been among its biggest fans ever since.
The following resources were shared during the conference. If you find a broken link or any incorrect or potentially harmful information, please bring it to my attention.
Resources for Newbies
Salary and Career Development Resources
- Instructional Design Hourly Rates and Salary by Christy Tucker
- Name Bias in Hiring
- The Ask-a-Manager Guide to Asking for a Raise
- Video: How to Find Clients
- Video: The Best Career Path Isn’t Always a Straight Line
- What’s the State of Women in the Workforce? by Patti Shank
- Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified
Diversity and Inclusion Resources
Knowing Your Worth
- Free Textbooks and Journals by Industry-Leading Professors and Other Experts
- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
- Data and Analytics for Instructional Designers by Megan Torrance (affiliate link)
- Design for Learning: Principles, Process, and Praxis by Jason K. McDonald and Richard E. West
- Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology by Richard E. West
- Interact and Engage: 75+ Activities for Virtual Training, Meetings, and Webinars by Kassy LaBorie (affiliate link)