Sandra Glaser Cheek, VP, Global Partners and Alliances, Ciena, On Being Brave

Growing up, Glaser Cheek moved frequently between states and internationally. She was constantly having to get used to new friends and cultures, and she believes that these constant changes forced her to be courageous. Later, she quit her job one year out of college, moved to New York and started her life. She "accidently" ended up in a tech career where she met her husband, and most of her decisions have been made with fearlessness.

However, the same cannot be said for many girls, she explained. Unlike boys, girls are taught to avoid risk. Boys are taught to play around and swing high. By the time boys are men, they are more accustomed to taking risks and are rewarded for it as adults, often through a promotion or higher salary. Girls are praised for being smart, while boys are praised for trying hard. This kid of conditioning can lead boys to develop a growth mindset, while girls often take on a more fixed mindset. But having a growth mindset – and courage – is important to raising up women in the labor force.

"Being brave is more important than being perfect. Take risks, even if they are baby steps. Don’t second-guess your credentials," she told the audience. "Promote a culture of risk taking, because if we don’t, then who is even going to try? And let's support all the women out there that we work with because if we are going to close the gender gap, we need each other."