A successful tech career can be rewarding for women. This career path is challenging for women because tech has been a male-dominated industry for so long. But this doesn't mean you can't enjoy a long and successful career in it.
Here are tips for building an outstanding career in tech.
Related: Why We Need More Women in Tech
Why We Need Women in Tech Careers
Aside from your fulfillment, why do we need more women in tech careers? There are many reasons, but the top three reasons we need women in tech are better products, higher performing tech companies, and to satisfy a growing industry.
Gender diversity in tech means we all enjoy better products. Tech marvels like the smartphone, face and voice recognition software, and car safety are mainly designed by men. This is only a problem because the best smartphones are generally too large for women's hands because they were made for men. Features designed to be performed with one hand are usually very challenging for women, whose hands are one to two inches smaller in circumference than a man's.
Similarly, face and voice recognition software often struggle to recognize the faces and voices of women. These design flaws weren't intentional but resulted from only having the benefit of one perspective in the creation process. And finally, car crash dummies have been mainly designed after the male form, which means car safety measures aren't designed with a woman's body in mind. As a result, women are more susceptible to be seriously injured in car accidents.
Higher Performing Companies
It's no secret that women who have tried to enter the tech industry have been resisted. But if more women are in the industry and have more say in hiring practices, women won't be as discriminated against. This means companies can focus on the skills and qualifications of candidates and not their gender. Over time, companies will have workforces of more talented people - regardless of gender.
Satisfy a Growing Industry
Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet. It requires a steady influx of skilled people to keep up its momentum. If women are continually shut out, tech just won't have the number of people needed, and technological progress will slow. None of us want that.
Women make up 50% of the U.S. workforce, but only 20% of that are in tech jobs. An even smaller number are in leadership roles within tech. Without women, tech will lack the worker numbers and the expertise of an entire population segment.
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How to Build Your Successful Career in Tech
We probably didn't need to sell you on the importance of women in tech. But here are some tips for building a successful career.
Be Brave and Know Your Strengths
As with any new thing, you may begin with lots of self-doubts. But be confident that you are qualified and ready for a tech career once you have acquired the necessary skills. It takes courage to enter a field where you will look around and not see many faces that look like yours, but go for it anyway. The confidence boost you'll receive for doing hard things will reap huge rewards.
Think of the amazing women who have gone before you, like Ada Lovelace (writer of the first computer program), Grace Hopper (programming pioneer), Katherine Johnson (human calculator for NASA), and Annie Easley (early writer of code for NASA). These women were truly pioneers in tech and faced more resistance and discrimination than most of us. Yet they persisted and have left a legacy for you. Be brave - you can do this.
Find a Mentor
You may find that your supervisors or managers are not great encouragers. Also, they may not offer the kind of career and work guidance you need. Find a mentor, preferably female, who will provide you with the benefit of their years of experience and guide you away from the pitfalls they fell into or saw others fall into. Never underestimate the power of having empowering conversations with people who want you to succeed.
Be Prepared for Criticism and Resistance
Criticism is, unfortunately, a natural part of life and work. You will receive criticism about your work, so learn not to take it personally. Regardless of the perceived intent of the giver, criticism can be helpful. Try not to allow it, along with all the other stresses of work, to burden you. Be open to criticism and use it to improve your performance.
Make Friends: Network
An African proverb states, "If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together." There is real wisdom in making friends with other women in the field - not to commiserate but to support and encourage each other. You'll love having a community of other women who will be happy for your achievements and provide a listening ear when things don't go well.
Never Stop Learning
Take advantage of classes, courses, and other learning opportunities to add to your skill set. Build on your strengths and initial knowledge base to stay ahead of this fast-moving industry. And as brilliant as you are, you probably have knowledge gaps that you can close with training courses, workshops, or conferences. Invest in yourself and remember to document your ongoing skills and qualifications on your resume.
Don't Be Bashful About Your Accomplishments
Be proud of what you've achieved so far. Recalling how far you've come will be a great encouragement when progress feels slow. Make sure that others know about your accomplishments as well. Consider writing a case study to highlight your journey. Institutions of higher learning are often interested in case studies about alums or people in specific industries.
Enjoy a Successful Career in Tech
Well done on choosing a tech career. You're doing rewarding and fulfilling work, and you're creating a path for other women to come after you. You'll have many opportunities to be innovative in ways that benefit the rest of the world and to better yourself. Despite the challenges, you can enjoy a rich and outstanding career in tech.
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