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Women are invaluable assets to tech companies, with unique skills and perspectives that will only advance the progress we’ve made thus far.

pexels thisisengineering 3861969 large | Business Advice | career, woman, woman in tech

Despite making up nearly half of the total workforce, women account for only 25% of those working in technology. As a woman in tech myself, I have had to forge my own path to success in such a male-dominated industry.

Tech needs more women—gender diversity brings in new voices and fresh perspectives and has even been shown to boost companies’ financial performance. The industry is slowly changing and becoming more inclusive, and with it comes new opportunities and challenges for women in tech.

Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about how to succeed in this industry as a woman. If you want to break into the field, read on for the three pieces of advice I give to every woman entering tech.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONFIDENCE

As women in tech, we need to cultivate confidence—to trust that we will succeed regardless of the facts and figures of this male-dominated industry. Our success begins when we believe in its possibility. There are opportunities waiting to be found, but we will never see them if we are too insecure to even knock on the door.ADVERTISEMENT

Research has shown that women speak up 75% less often than men in male-dominated environments, and virtual meetings have only exacerbated this trend during the pandemic. In my career, I have seen how women are often afraid to speak up for fear of saying the “wrong” thing. They think every contribution they make has to be perfectly formulated, so they end up saying nothing at all. If we want to create opportunities for ourselves, we have to join the conversation. Be confident enough to be wrong, to say things others disagree with, and to trust your own voice.

Before you do anything else to further your career, put in the time to build your confidence. Just like we might lift weights at the gym to build muscle, we have to work to strengthen our belief in ourselves. I have watched a lack of confidence thwart far too many promising women—it holds us back from jumping at the opportunities we might otherwise run toward. Too often, we stay quiet in meetings or hesitate to take a bonus assignment thrown on the table. We can’t wait around and hope that someone will notice us; we have to dive in boldly and believe in our abilities, our right to be in the room, and the future we are building.

FIND A MENTOR 

Even the most confident woman will have questions, anxieties, and fears that come up throughout her career. Furthermore, women in tech encounter unique challenges and discrimination that they may need help navigating. In these moments, it is critically important to have a mentor. A mentor is a trusted advisor that we can ask questions that we might otherwise feel too embarrassed to voice to others. A mentor provides a safe space to share our biggest goals, brainstorm how we might achieve them, and help us reckon with the challenges we face.

That being said, while a mentor will provide guidance, they will not necessarily directly advance your career. This is where a career sponsor comes in. A career sponsor is someone you work with (such as a manager, an internal or external executive, or a recruiter) who will intentionally and actively work to advance your progress and lift your career trajectory; they will go out of their way to share opportunities and open doors for you.

My hope is for every woman in tech to have both a mentor and a career sponsor. So how do you go about finding them?

Sometimes, they find you. When you confidently and passionately pursue your career, you may find potential mentors and sponsors notice your work. But if this does not happen, you shouldn’t be afraid to seek them out. Identify and reach out to professionals in your field you respect and with whom you have established a relationship. Perhaps there is someone who is already informally mentoring you or a professional who has connected you to opportunities in the past. Whoever the person is, know that finding a mentor and a career sponsor will prove invaluable to your professional growth.

BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF 

As a woman in tech, you may feel like you have to wear a mask at work—to put on a personality that is not necessarily your own in order to fit into male-dominated spaces. But this mask will only be a detriment to your career progress. Your authentic self (and your authentic intelligence, voice, and passion) is the reason you were hired and why you were drawn to this work.

When we are a different person at work than we are at home, we may experience insecurity, anxiety, and burnout. We don’t trust ourselves or our work because we are always performing—and a daily performance is hard to maintain. When we are true to ourselves, we are better able to feel confident in our participation at work.

There is no hiding or shrinking into the shadows—we are authentic, living in the full expression of what we are capable of. You do not have to compete with others or compare yourself to an impossible ideal: Your authentic voice is enough.

WOMEN BELONG IN TECH

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and emphasized the need for innovative voices in technology. There are more opportunities than ever before, but tech remains a space many women feel uncomfortable entering. After spending my entire career in this field, I know it doesn’t have to be this way.

Women are invaluable assets to tech companies, with unique skills and perspectives that will only advance the progress we’ve made thus far. And while we may face discouraging statistics, we should not let them stop us from pursuing our passions. We have to believe in the possibility of our success before we will ever see it come to fruition. Women belong in tech—will you join us?

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90733677/the-most-valuable-advice-i-give-every-woman-entering-tech

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