Forging a Path as a Female in the Tech Industry
As many in the IT industry know, it hasn’t always been an inclusive place for women. In honor of International Women’s Day, we recently spoke with Works’ Vice President of Product to discuss her career path, the lessons she’s learned, and the obstacles she’s encountered along the way.
Initially, I had my sights set on a career in journalism or writing, not high-tech. However, after taking an introductory programming course with a friend, I discovered a natural ability for the subject. My eagerness to master new languages provided added drive to pursue computer and information science professionally. That one course acted as a catalyst for me to make a career-changing decision.
While at Carnegie Mellon‘s high-performance computer facility, she gained invaluable understanding of the potential of cutting-edge technology. However, it was also apparent that there existed a significant gender gap in the industry, with some individuals believing that she was only receiving special treatment due to her gender.
I remember a particular instance where I was awarded a scholarship, and a fellow student dismissed the decision, claiming that it had been made solely because of my gender. It made me believe that my gender played a decisive role in the selection process.
After completing college, she accepted a position at a sizeable technology consulting company, where she eventually gained the chance to work on assignments for some of the most notable American manufacturers. Looking back on her experiences, she recollects: “There were distinct moments of misogyny that I encountered in my early years. One time, I was commanded to ‘just sit there and look pretty’.”
There were times when I felt that my gender was not given appropriate recognition. When I transitioned into product management, certain individuals mistakenly believed that I effortlessly understood the technical aspects of the industry. Regrettably, there existed some who held a bias that women lack technical skills and qualifications, and cannot understand product design intricacies because of inadequate technical knowledge.
She commented that the shift to remote work has had a significant impact. When coworkers cannot meet face-to-face, it becomes vital to showcase one’s abilities through their work. Working remotely demands careful documentation, and emphasis is placed on the work itself, rather than the individual delivering it.
She has encountered challenges, but she has been bolstered by various factors that have enabled her to persist as a female in the technology industry.
Building a Team
She affirms that, “While I didn’t always have female role models to turn to, I was lucky to have the mentorship of many male mentors who aided me during tough periods.” A mentor is a person who offers guidance, constructive criticism, and sound advice – gender is irrelevant in this capacity.
She underscores the significance of having dependable colleagues to rely on for support if you aim to advance in your career, emphasizing the role that a mentor can play in facilitating this. To borrow words from Winston Churchill, “It is vital to have a circle of advisors, particularly those in higher positions than yours, who can proffer advice on decisions.”
Being Honest With Yourself
Being able to impartially evaluate one’s own performance is a critical skill for women working in IT. It is crucial to distinguish when decisions are made neutrally and when gender bias is prevalent in a domain where this is, regrettably, frequent. Cultivating this skill is imperative as it may not be evident at all times.
Expanding Your Network
She emphasises that, in spite of the underrepresentation of women in the technology sector, there exist various networks that are accessible to women in technology. These networks can prove invaluable in advancing one’s career. She states, “There are abundant Facebook groups that offer guidance on how to thrive as a woman in the IT industry, with other women providing crucial support and engaging in discussions on pertinent issues that impact women in the business world.”
The Business World is Experiencing a Revolution
She underscored the advancements that have been achieved in the technology industry concerning gender diversity. She noted that, upon her departure from her previous employer, the product and UX teams had a 60:40 male-to-female ratio, a significant improvement from a few years prior.
It is crucial to guarantee gender representation in leadership positions across all levels of the technology sector. Studies have shown that female employees frequently choose to work in teams led by female managers. There exist a plethora of accomplished women who are eager to showcase their competencies. Additionally, it is essential for the sector to be able to generate its own momentum.
How to Find the Right Job: Key Factors to Consider
Works has validated the popular notion that companies with a clear mission tend to achieve greater success.
Works is a well-known enterprise recognized for its resolute purpose, motivating prospective employees to join the company and contribute to a purposeful mission.
Working for a forward-thinking organization that does not adhere to obsolete customs and ideologies is highly encouraging. This environment is especially motivating for those in imaginative roles, such as product managers, who have the freedom to explore and receive constructive feedback.
Do you want to be a member of the Works Community? Submit your hiring request to us at https://www.works.so/hire-talent