What’s it like to be a woman in tech? There’s no one answer because there are so many factors that impact your experiences. From speaking to women in the industry it can be a lonely place.
With around 25% of jobs in tech held by women, they’re in the minority in the workplace and that makes their understanding and view of the industry very different to their male counterparts.
Lessons for women, by women
It’s hard to understand a situation fully until you’ve experienced it yourself. That’s why we’ve spoken to women in tech to find out their advice on navigating the tech industry and what they’ve learned about themselves, their careers and their challenges.
Build your community
Getting to know others in the industry is a great starting point. They might be your peers or senior leaders but fostering good relationships will give you flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities as well as being able to seek out a mentor. It’s not just building those connections but nurturing them to ensure you’re front of mind should a new project or role come up.
Celebrate your success loudly
Typically, women don’t celebrate their success. Instead they pat themselves on the back and move on to the next thing. Why shouldn’t you celebrate your accomplishments loudly? Why shouldn’t people know what you’ve achieved or how hard you’ve worked? If you don’t tell people what you’re capable of then they don’t know you can do it and you may be overlooked because of that. Let everyone know how incredible you are and how talented you are on a regular basis.
Banish negative talk to yourself
For many women their own worst enemy is themselves. We constantly belittle ourselves or tell ourselves off about silly mistakes. Eventually that negative talk seeps into our internal narrative and we believe those things. Stop. Talk to yourself like you would a friend or respected colleague and channel positive internal talk. Build yourself up instead of knocking yourself down.
Support other women
Collaboration over competition, every single time. Women have to look out for other women. Encouraging junior team members to go for promotions, sharing advice and expertise, celebrating wins and commiserating losses. It’s easy, particularly in the tech industry to get caught up in working in a “man’s world”. But it doesn’t have to be like that. After all women need others who have been there before them and can show them how to succeed. Be that woman for those that come after you.
Best practices for employers
We can’t put the emphasis solely on women to solve the problems they face alone. Employers have to do their part too. So here are a few examples of best practices that employers can implement to do their bit.
Don’t make assumptions
Perhaps the most important piece of advice employers can receive is don’t make assumptions about what the women in your organisation need. Ask your female employees what they need, what challenges they personally face and work with them to find a solution. Create an ongoing dialogue with them to truly understand and engage your female employees.
If you take this approach though you need to make sure you’re committed to change and willing to act on the feedback you receive, otherwise you risk alienating the women in your organisation.
Identify bias and strive to change it
Employers need to accept that there will be unconscious bias within their organisation, particularly in a male dominated industry like tech. For those that are serious about challenging gender discrimination they need to be on high alert, waiting to identify bias and then taking steps to eradicate it.
This isn’t a quick solution, and requires a long-term commitment from senior leadership, but acknowledging there’s an issue is the first step to solving it.
When we say opportunities we don’t just mean promotions, though they’re always a good one to start with, but opportunities to learn, develop, connect, network, progress. Ensuring there’s a robust career plan complete with development opportunities for the women in your employment. Establishing a mentoring program or providing access to senior leadership for more junior roles. Investing in leadership and confidence training for female employees. They’re all great examples of how an employer can create meaningful opportunities that really help.
Communities, networks, mentors. They come up time and time again when we talk about women in tech. Maybe it’s because they help women feel less isolated, more connected and more supported. So they’re more likely to remain in the industry and have someone to turn to for advice when it’s needed.
We want women to thrive in the tech industry, because then the industry thrives. But in order to do that we all need to play our part to support and encourage women to fulfil their potential.
Source Group International are passionate about evolving the recruitment industry, and we’re looking for talent to join us on our discovery. Find out more about our internal practices contributing to building an inclusive workforce here.