How to Succeed as a Woman in Tech
So you are a woman entering the tech world. You have worked tirelessly to practice and refine your skills and are starting to prepare for your next professional step. What can you expect and how can you set a positive trajectory in a male-dominated field?
Here are some helpful considerations for women by women who have been there:
Women in tech often face more barriers to entry than men. And in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, these barriers can mean the difference between being overlooked and landing a job. Here are three common obstacles for women in the field:
- A male-dominated environment. Even though the computer science industry was started by women and has a long history of female-led achievements, the stereotype of the "tech bro" still persists. This influences workplace culture and climate, and can be off-putting to women entering the field, breeding discomfort and insecurity.
- Men at all levels of entry. A male-dominated workplace means decision makers are more likely to be male. This presents additional challenges for hiring and upward mobility.
- Family considerations. On average, women begin their tech careers later than their male counterparts due to the demands of family and childcare. Additionally, some women may be underemployed in the field or may leave intermittently to meet those demands, causing additional gender pay disparities over the course of their career.
Together, these barriers mean women in the tech world must work even harder to stand out, break through stereotypes, and grow their presence in the field.
Vetting the workplace
As a woman, it can be challenging to find a workplace that checks all of your boxes. As you research and interview potential companies, consider not only what they can offer you professionally, but also how happy you will be in that environment. Here are four things to look for in a prospective tech workplace:
- Is the company diverse? Get curious about how the interview panel reflects the diversity companywide. Ask what they are doing to increase diversity and how this is reflected in their hiring practices.
- What does the company culture actually look like? Find out how employees at all levels interact and how your perspective might clash or enhance the workplace experience.
- Is the company inclusive? Get curious about how they support women in the workplace and if they are intentionally inclusive (from their philosophy down to day-to-day decision making). Ask how they are actively and intentionally hiring women.
- How will they help you grow? Find out if they frequently hire new grads and how often you would have opportunities for upward mobility. Discover if they intend to invest in you as much as you will invest in them.
In a new work environment it can be easy to feel intimidated. It’s important to remember you are as talented as your colleagues and have a great deal to offer. Here are five tips to push through imposter syndrome in your new role and achieve your career goals.
- Recognize you are talented. The tech field is competitive, but remember that you bring your unique skills and perspective. Own your triumphs and be proud of what you will accomplish.
- Set small goals. Think of what you need to accomplish week-by-week, and track your achievements. Watching your progress will motivate you and reinforce that you belong and are contributing.
- Lean on your support system. Connect with friends and family who really know you and can remind you of how far you’ve come. The perspective will motivate you to reach even higher.
- Lean on your tech community. Check in and see how others in your Bloom Institute of Technology (formerly known as Lambda School) community are doing in the tech world. Hearing first hand about other motivated individuals reaching their goals might inspire you to try new things or take professional risks you had never considered.
- Reflect on your progress. Appreciate your journey and the hard work you have put into each day. Your vision and perseverance brought you this far. Trust that your learning mentality will continue to serve you in the professional roles ahead.
As a woman in tech you may feel like a pioneer in your workplace, but don’t let that intimidate you. Here are seven tips to reduce isolation, build confidence, showcase your value, and improve your reach.
- Speak up. Women are less likely than men to raise concerns in the workplace, so if you encounter a professional issue say something. Your colleagues and clients will appreciate your attention to detail.
- Speak out. If you encounter personnel issues in the workplace, go to your manager or HR immediately before they become more challenging.
- Negotiate your salary. Bridge the gender pay gap by asking for what you are worth within your market. Build confidence by consulting with your career coach and gather resources. Don’t be shy to aim high and always push back. You deserve every penny.
- Network early. Don’t wait until graduation to reach out to recruiters and other professional connections. Find a meet-up or conference before your program ends and get more information about companies that interest you. Find out what technologies they use and how your interests might align with theirs.
- Promote projects. Put demos on social media like YouTube and Twitter to gain notoriety and solicit feedback. You never know what job offers or professional references could come from promoting yourself boldly.
- Adapt. Technology frequently changes project to project in the workplace, so stay open to learning and using new technologies. Make a habit of staying flexible and using the mentality of lifetime learning to stay current.
- Overcome perfectionism. Waiting to release the perfect project can hold you back from your potential. If it’s functional, take what you have and put it out into the world. Utilize resources such as BloomTech’s “Show It Off” Channel to get gentle peer feedback to consistently improve your product.
Remember, women in tech add value and perspective to every team. You have a bright career ahead and already have what it takes to make a lasting impact wherever you choose to share your talents.