Celebrating International Women’s Day

by Esther Barthel, CUGC Women In Tech Leader, CTP

When I was reflecting a few weeks ago on everything we have achieved with the CUGC Women In Tech mentorship program, I made the mistake of only looking at the number of women who have participated so far in the Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) program over the past ten years. If you only look at those numbers, you can’t help but conclude that we (as a community) have made little to no progress when it comes to being more inclusive and diverse.

In 2015, I was part of the first Diversity & Inclusion change in the CTP program. For the first time in the program’s history, four women joined the award program, consisting of 50 Citrix specialists worldwide that share their knowledge with the community and provide feedback to Citrix’s product managers with great passion. Now, in 2023, the CTP program consists of 63 people, including three women.

In eight years’ time, the percentage of women in the program dropped from 8 down to 4.76. I think you can imagine that realization did not fill me with much joy. And it did make me question whether all that energy and passion to be a role model and work put into getting Diversity & Inclusion on the agenda in recent years was worth it.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific. #IWD2023 #EmbraceEquity


After doing some soul searching over the past few weeks, I have to admit I have not always been good at promoting all the work I have accomplished promoting women in tech. So what better day than today to change that? Let’s use this International Women’s Day to take the opportunity to reflect on some of those achievements.

Today I will celebrate and thank all the Women in Tech for their contributions and the successes we have achieved with the CUGC Women in Tech mentorship program.

The CUGC Women in Tech mentorship program was launched in 2016 in collaboration with the Citrix User Group Community (CUGC) and Citrix Technology Professionals (CTPs) Theresa Miller, Jo Harder, and myself, so that we could be the female role models we missed in our own tech careers.

The mentorship program provides a network where women can share experiences in this tech workfield, encourage each other to be visible and heard, and have conversations with men about increasing diversity and inclusion in our daily work environments.

So THANK YOU to all the mentors that helped shape the Women in Tech mentorship program:

  • Theresa Miller
  • Jo Harder
  • Jen Sheerin
  • Jackie Sanchez
  • Renee Reighard
  • Sarah Vogt
  • Heather Meyer
  • Tiffany Renrick
  • Jane Cassell
  • Cathleen Leik
  • Gaby Grau

And in particular our allies who persistently kept asking me how they could help and have enthusiastically joined the mentor team to support more women in tech:

  • Jim Moyle
  • Mike Nelson
  • Neil Spellings
Esther Barthel, Eva Helén, Mike Nelson, Jim Moyle & Neil Spellings discuss how men can be allies for women in tech.

And to those who became personal allies and sponsors during the IGEL DISRUPT23 Women in Tech panel discussion:

  • Jed Ayres
  • Christian Reilly
Women In Tech Session at IGEL Disrupt 23 Munich
Gaby Grau, Britta Loew, Jed Ayres, Esther Barthel & Christian Reilly at IGEL DISRUPT23 Munich.

Additionally, I would like to thank Eva Helén who made me aware of the many allies and sponsors that do offer help and who have challenged me to keep the conversation going with the men too. I feel blessed being mentored by you!

I would also like to thank CUGC’s Stephanie Boozer for the enthusiasm with which she supports the program and continues to brainstorm with me to explore new initiatives and add new activities to the program. You are the best partner in crime I can ask for on this adventure!

As mentioned earlier, I haven’t always been good at promoting the mentorship program and making the program’s impact visible. Today, I would like to change that and reflect on a few special moments from the past seven years.

My first mentee will always be special. Not only because I learned a lot from her, but mainly because of the friendship that quickly developed and still allows me to enjoy her growth and adventures in the Citrix community every day. It’s super cool to see someone grow not only professionally, but also in the active contributions they make to the community, as she is now the VP of one of the coolest Citrix User Groups.

Another special moment is adding special activities to the program, by organizing themed sessions during Citrix Synergy to create more awareness and address topics like unconscious bias. Or even the thematic webinars we were able to organize together with CUGC, which are still available on YouTube (https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR5MnudZYab1-xdrYyaNzpTBhrFwWJLPc).

But what makes me the most proud are the mentees and mentors who stepped out of their comfort zones and actively contribute to our community through various award programs and local user groups.

And last but not least one more shout out to all the women that reached out to me personally. Your encouraging words, positive feedback and enthusiasm to get connected warms my heart and boosts my energy and enthusiasm to keep improving the program, reach out to more women in tech and be that vocal role model to others.

Today I am super excited about the future as I can see beyond sheer numbers, and see more women in tech being visible, finding allies and sponsors, building stronger networks and offering each other help

Today I celebrate YOU, your accomplishments and our shared passion for technology.

Let’s start many more geeky adventures together!

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