You’ve probably heard and even joined the vociferous call for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.
A look at the vacancies posted on AIQU Search, a leading global sourcing company specialising in careers in tech, shows companies no longer specify gender in calls for applications in a bid to improve diversity and be more inclusive.
Not only does diversity and inclusivity sound good on principle. The data also says it works. McKinsey (2020) ranked companies according to their gender diversity on executive teams.
They then found out that above-average profitability is 25% more likely in the top-quartile companies than in the fourth-quartile companies.
Furthermore, McKinsey’s study also shows that the more women executives there are, the better their performance is likely to be.
In fact, the most gender-diverse companies could outperform the least gender-diverse companies by 48%.
Despite overwhelming evidence supporting how companies benefit from welcoming more women into their folds, what’s happening on the ground is far from ideal. This is especially true in tech.
The Gender Handicap for Women in Tech
According to Statista, based on 2021 data, women hold only an average of 24% of tech jobs for the top tech companies Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
This is in line with the 2018 data by ADEVA that indicates women hold only 25% of all tech industry jobs and the Gartner research that says women comprise only 31% of IT employees.
In the United States, the 2020 Women and Information Technology report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology shows that women represent 57% of professional occupations in the US workforce. However, women hold only 25% of all professional computing occupations.
While this gender gap in tech can be attributed mainly to the lower percentage of women taking up STEM courses, including information technology and computing in college, this is not the whole story.
A study by Accenture and Girls Who Code indicates that, by age 35, one in two women leave their technology careers. Women are 45% more likely to abandon tech careers than their male counterparts.
In other words, not only do fewer women study and take up technology courses in college. Furthermore, even those who do complete their tech training or land a career in tech find it more difficult than men to stay in technology careers.
If you are a woman who wants to break through and thrive in a career in technology despite the challenges you might face, read on.
Tips on How to Break Through in Tech and Thrive
If you are a woman in tech or someone who would like to be in tech, follow these practical tips on how you can break through and thrive in a tech career.
1. Proactively Request Projects and Tasks
Suppose your boss announces that your department will be handling the development of an eCommerce platform for the most prominent fashion house in the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC.
As it turns out, you have just finished working on a payment systems project, and you really would like to take on the role of product key owner in the upcoming eCommerce project.
In this case, the best advice you can follow is to speak your mind about what you want and tell your boss you want in on the project and want the product owner role.
Make it a habit to tell your boss whenever you want to participate in a particular project or want a specific position.
Can your boss decline your request? Absolutely. Can you get the project without asking for it? Yes, you might, if your boss or the team lead chooses you to be part of it.
However, your chances of getting in on the project and getting the role you want increases just by asking, so ask away.
Additionally, even if you don’t end up on the team that handles the project, you’ll be on your boss’ mind for when a vacancy in the project opens up.
2. Speak Up and Be Heard
This is related to the first tip, but it applies to everything in your career life. Do not withhold your feedback when asked, do not be timid about sharing solutions you’ve thought up, and be forthcoming with your suggestions when asked for your insights.
In other words, make sure you have a voice in your company and that it can be heard regularly and consistently.
Of course, make sure to speak about things you know, especially what you know by heart. You have a two-fold goal.
First, you want to contribute to the conversation, and you want your feedback, insights and suggestions to provide value. Second, you want to establish yourself as a credible and legitimate authority on the matter.
By offering value, you become valuable. By becoming credible, you become memorable. Both of these things will help you advance in your career in tech (or any career for that matter).
3. Dig In, Upskill and Rise
As a woman in tech, you already know you have to work harder than your male colleagues just to overcome gender biases that might be rampant in your workplace.
Therefore, as a woman in technology, working hard at your current role is one of the most important things you can do.
However, you can never be complacent about working on what you know. Take all the opportunities you are presented to learn new skills and specialise.
By the way, if you can, expend your energy future-proofing your career. In other words, learn skills that future projects, given the current trajectory of technology, are likely to be in great demand.
Finally, you should rise to the professional challenges thrown at you. Perform like an ace and get acknowledged as such.
4. Learn to Take Criticism
You want to be someone who can take criticisms and take them well. You want to be perceived as someone who can roll with the punches and use them to do better.
Avoid taking negative feedback personally. Instead, look into what’s being said, find out where things went wrong, and work on areas for improvement.
5. Dare to Climb Up
There will be roles where you might not tick all the boxes regarding the required years of experience or background. Even so, dare to put your name forward.
Daring to reach for what might initially appear unattainable given your current circumstances might just be the opening you need to advance in your chosen career.
Therefore, if applications for a new position or a promotion open up, apply if you think the role is something you can fill with confidence.
This will accomplish two things. First, it will allow you to get the role. If you don’t apply, you’ll have zero chances.
Second, it forces your boss or your prospective employer to assess you. Even if they find your credentials inadequate for the role you’re applying for, they might realise you fit just right for a different position.
Women in Tech: It’s Hard, But It Can Be Done
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It’s difficult for women to break through and thrive in tech. That is true. You might say the cards are stacked against women. However, with perseverance, it can be done. The names Safra Catz, Kimberly Bryant, and Elizabeth Churchill should tell you it’s possible. Discover more notable women in tech through this solitaire.