Women are outnumbered in many workplaces, but especially in the tech industry. A 2017 study by Observer showed some statistics to explain just how outnumbered women are at all levels of the tech industry:
- 5% of women own startups.
- 28% of women earn computer science degrees.
- 7% of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women.
- Since 1991, the percentage of women in tech has been steadily declining.
- 11% of women hold executive positions at Silicon Valley companies.
- 41% of women quit the tech industry compared to 17% of men.
- 63% of women receive lower salary offers for the same job held by men.
- 74% of young girls express interest in computer science fields.
Given the stats above, it may be obvious to see why so many young women express interest in computer science but never follow through with their ambitions. So, we offer this advice for women in the tech industry who may be interested but believe the obstacles are too tough to overcome.
Speak up and out
It is not enough to simply find others who feel they are being held back in an industry. Sticking together to deal with a common issue is “group therapy” and you will need that group as you move forward. But what gets things done is speaking up and out in the tech industry about what is happening and why.
The more women speak out the more they will find each other; all those who work in the same industry who are experiencing the same issues. The more tech women speak out and connect with each other, the greater the chance for all of them to build their own technology or solutions.
The dialogue must be started to pressure companies to bring in more women who are equally skilled. Most importantly, they must be paid fairly and certainly not lower than someone else who performs the exact same job functions.
Help a woman out
Women are great at taking care of others and creating jobs for other women. But the real strength in an industry starts with mentoring and networking with women on the EDU level.
Mentoring is a great way to leave a lifelong impression on a person. Find that “champion” (regardless of gender) who will help a woman out when they want to break the glass ceiling she feels stuck under.
Every CEO of a successful company at one point in their career had some form of a mentor. Women in positions of success who represent the “results not typical” group would do better for women to let them know the secrets of success.
Become a subject matter expert
Study up on data science, coding, and artificial intelligence. Become a subject-matter expert by reading and learning the hard skills that those you compete against are using to succeed. One of the best things to do is become is an avid reader.
Learning curves are always steep and reading can help prepare the brain to absorb subject matter quickly. Most importantly, do not just expose yourself to it or learn "what to do”. Learn “how to do it” and apply what you know to show you are a subject matter expert. You can only do what you know until you know better.
Talk yourself up
Soft skills come in handy all the time. The ability to network and communicate are soft skills in demand.
But even more important is the skill of self-promotion. You need to be the master of “show and tell”. People need to know just how awesome you really are and you can never back away from a chance to tell someone.
There will be those who tell you that “bragging is not ideal” but self-promotion is the art of well-timed bragging, so it does not seem arrogant. It just looks like you are offering a wise solution by explaining what you do best. And do not listen to anyone who tells you to not have pride. You cannot control how others react to you.
Learn the art of negotiation
Negotiation is the single most important skill any person, man or woman, can have in order to have a successful career. The art of negotiation is the backbone of selling your ideas and work to anyone, but at the same time, the skill is mandatory for knowing how and when to close deals.