I Am Techie, Hear Me Roar – How to Get Ahead as a Woman in the Tech Industry

  • 7 minutes read

We’ve taken the time to compile a comprehensive list for all the women out there endeavoring to fight for their career in tech, whether they’re just starting out or are veterans of the field.

The Problem

The gender wage gap, the underrepresentation of women in technical fields – we hear about these topics again and again, because they’re not going away. While times are constantly evolving, and things ARE getting better for women in IT, our home base, the Czech Republic, still has the highest gender pay gap in Europe in the IT sector. We wrote about this in 2017, and things still haven’t changed.

Currently, one-quarter of people occupying computing roles are women, with less than 10 percent of these being women of color. In fact, the percentage of women in computing occupations has declined since 1991, from 36 percent to 25 in 2019.

There are various reasons why women are discouraged from starting or furthering their careers in IT. Women in the information tech industry are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs than men, 41% compared to 17%. Compared to other STEM fields, women in technology are less common, and more likely to quit. Women are more likely to leave their organizations at mid-level points rather than furthering their career to senior level at their current employment.

So why is it this way? Studies cite lack of support from managers, fewer opportunities for training and development, and minimal support for handling other responsibilities alongside work as key motivators for women leaving their IT jobs and the industry.

Furthermore, women are not given adequate access to creative roles or ownership of products and new tech. Patents in IT made by all-male teams make up 82-90% of all IT patents, while all-women teams only 2%. While this number has increased over time and can vary from organization to organization, the number of women in creator roles can be attributed to this infinitesimal statistic. It goes to reason that the most commonly-held position of women in IT is as Project Manager. For men? Software Engineer.

It’s clear that employers need to change workplace conditions as well as the opportunities they provide for women. But until they do, there are steps that women themselves can take to get ahead and keep up with – or even dominate – men.

This one’s for you ladies: listen up.

 

The (Temporary) Solution

1. Get to know the sector

If you’re fresh out of college or a coding boot camp, do your research on the right tech career path for you. IT isn’t just software development and coding; it can be technical consultancy, data science, system administration, AI, design, etc. Research employers, to find places that visibly promote women in management jobs, have initiatives to be more inclusive in the workplace, and celebrate the women that work for them. 

2. Show your passion

Nothing stands out more than enthusiasm. Let it seep out of your pores. Make sure that it comes across in applications, interviews, and your work that you are passionate about your career and what you are doing. Keep up-to-date with changes in the industry, the news, and form an opinion so you’re always ready for an in-depth discussion.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to love your job. However, loving the industry you’re in will motivate you to find the perfect place that welcomes and celebrates passionate women. If you’re curious and adaptable, you won’t get bored, and seek to learn more. This is key to personal and professional growth.

3. Gain experience

Not only does gaining experience demonstrate your motivation to an employer, but you also get to know the position and see if it’s a right fit for you. Work experience helps you look good during an interview, can help you build your network, and puts you in touch with other women who have gone down that career path and may be able to give you some advice.

4. Attend conferences

Networking is key to finding great new opportunities and gives you more freedom to choose the right job for you. Conferences can also give you new insights into how the industry is changing, what you can do to better yourself professionally, and how to better handle working in this male-dominated industry. For a list of great conferences and industry events to attend as a woman in tech, stay tuned for our top 10 list of conferences.

 

5. Communicate

Stand out from your colleagues (who, let’s face it, are mostly men) by demonstrating your communication skills. Men are stereotypically less adept at communicating and more focused on the nitty-gritty of tech, so set yourself apart with excellent communicating. Volunteer to do presentations, speak up during meetings (increasing your visibility), and use these skills to rope in new clients or build better relationships (also creating new connections for yourself!).

6. Don’t go it alone

If you feel isolated by the lack of women surrounding you at your workplace, get help or reach out on online forums for women in tech, like Systers. Avoid developing impostor syndrome by talking to others with similar experiences to you.

Find a mentor (or more than one). This can be someone within your organization, a career coach you can hire, or people you meet through forums or courses. Connect via LinkedIn to find people in similar roles and careers as you and ask for their advice! They’ll be more receptive the less you make it seem like you’re asking for a job, but respecting them as a professional.

7. Show your best self

Focus on your positive aspects, rather than your negatives during a job interview. Talk about how great you are for the job based on its description. Bias can taint interviews, so combat this by showing your technical expertise. Bias will never truly go away, so accepting its existence can be liberating.

If you’re interested in reading some more interview insights, check out our other blog post on the subject.

8. Believe in yourself

It sounds cheesy, I know, and a common theme in Disney movies, but it’s true. You were hired for a reason, so someone believes in your skills. Your ideas are just as innovative and valuable as any male team member’s. Speak up and go after opportunities that prove your worth in the organization. Suggest new projects, problems that can be solved, features that can be improved. Nothing will be perfect, so keep yourself relevant by pointing out areas that you can help in. Be assertive and confident about what you can do, because women do not lack the skills to succeed in IT; they generally lack confidence.

It’s not arrogant to let others know how great you are. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn and celebrate your accomplishments. Men have no trouble doing so, so keep up with the pack by highlighting all the things you do well. Subtly incorporate your successes into an email in the form of progress updates, whether yours or your teams. This avoids appearing arrogant, but clearly communicates that you have done well, work hard, and are a team player.

9. Practice negotiating

It can be one of the hardest things to do, but it’s important to stand up for yourself. Practicing how to negotiate an offer on friends, mentors, or in front of a mirror can help prepare you for the real deal.

Go into an offer negotiation locked and loaded with information: research the average market salaries for the job position and the country and city you’re located in. They won’t rescind the offer because you ask for more. If anything, it shows you’re committed to the position. Negotiating can be useful outside of salary discussions, helping you to be seen and heard by your employers. Earn a seat at that table by fighting for what you want.

In short, your career is in your hands.

If you’re not one to patiently wait around until the world changes and accommodates more diverse people in the industry, these are some steps that’ll hopefully help you achieve the IT career you deserve.

Our last top tip: If you want a job-searching experience free of gender bias, try a Techloop profile. They’re anonymous, which means that when a company contacts you, they know nothing of your age, gender, or ethnicity. Get approached for a job based solely on your skills and experience, not because you’re a diversity hire.

 

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