Here are 3 Valuable Lessons for the Tech Industry from Decades of Reflection
Decades of Reflection – Women have long been undervalued and underrepresented in the workplace. It’s no secret, but it’s especially true in the IT industry. Women account for fewer than 40% of the worldwide workforce and only 25% of professional computing occupations in the United States alone. In addition, according to a new analysis, 45 percent of polled women in tech say males outnumber them at work by a 4-to-1 or larger ratio.
We boast over 70 years experience working in technology between us, and if you ask us to describe our adventures, we’re likely to recollect both good and bad times. For example, one of us vividly recalls an eighth-grade math instructor telling her that she wasn’t good enough to study algebra. She chose to major in math as a serendipitous act of teenage rebellion before finding her first post-grad position as a programmer for a NASA contractor. This would pave the way for a successful, 50-year career in technology.
After a few decades, the other recalls feeling lonely and alone as the sole woman on her company’s executive team. Again, challenging the established norm, she used this as a springboard to create a platform dedicated to developing women in the workplace, helping identify and recruit additional female leaders.
What these stories show — and what the two of us agree on — is that, while many organizations and allies are working harder to help women advance in their careers and record success in a male-dominated tech world, much of the responsibility for change and improvement falls squarely on our shoulders as women. Women are resilient, demonstrating a new perspective, enthusiasm, and commitment to regaining influence, power, and capital after being disproportionately impacted by the epidemic.
Whether you’re a young woman pursuing a career in technology or a seasoned veteran, we all have a duty to play in closing the gender gap and supporting one another.
Here are a few things that have proven to be successful for us over time:
Acknowledge the challenges and confront them head-on
If you love or follow country music, you’ve probably heard the chorus of “Same Boat,” which goes like, “We’re all in the same boat, fishing in the same hole… ” We may be fishing in the same hole — or, in the case of the last two years, weathering the same storm — but we’re in quite different boats.
Women, particularly those in technical sectors, continue to confront many of the corporate problems that have traditionally persisted, according to Skillsoft’s 2021 Women in Tech study. Lack of pay parity is cited as the most pressing issue by most of the respondents, followed by work-life balance, opportunity, and training.
According to research by Qualtrics and The Boardlist, 34 percent of males working remotely with children at home obtained a promotion during the pandemic, compared to 9 percent of women in the same circumstance, and 26 percent of men received a wage boost, compared to just 13 percent of women.
Don’t be afraid of trying something new
Life is full of random twists and turns. Taking a break from work to take care of others is normal for many women. Finding an employer ready to take a risk on women returning to the workforce, in my experience, may be challenging. That is why it is critical to be persistent and eager to reinvent oneself.
Maintain a curious mentality throughout your work. That’s essential if you want to adjust and pivot in any circumstance. Perhaps your prior employment in product marketing has vanished since you left the industry, or maybe you have come to a point in your career where you no longer love the work. Are your current skill sets transferable to a new position? Are there any abilities you’ve acquired — or could gain — that would allow you to go to a different career path, such as development?
While pivoting and redesigning your career might be intimidating; it can pay out handsomely in the long run.
Embracing this strategy is an excellent business for organizations. Hiring women who have taken a professional sabbatical can help supplement current talent pools. These “returners” are frequently highly driven, educated, and competent for a wide range of positions. They are out to give it their all and present mature and different opinions, many of which they may have learned during their break.
Change can be difficult to accept, but accepting and adjusting to it can lead to new opportunities. It’s critical to survive and grasp and learn how to flourish in organizational change if you want to succeed.
For example, some years ago, one of us led a team developing a new product that was quite exciting. On the other hand, her firm chose a different path and purchased a company that was already successful in this field. She might have been concerned about her job, but instead, she saw the firm’s need for help in converting clients from the previous product to the new one. So she raised her hand, expressed her willingness to serve, and was given the new team.