It’s no secret that STEM industries are still lacking when it comes to gender equality. Although numbers are slowly growing, there are still many hurdles to overcome.
Nevertheless, many women want to make a career in science, tech, engineering or mathematics. Women who want to make it in these fields can face obstacles that men don’t. It can mean having to fight harder to get what you want and to prove yourself. But just because it’s hard work, it doesn’t mean you can’t get what you want. If you’re a woman who wants to make it in a tech-focused field, you can feel out of place. It can often be a very male environment, and it may be hard to make your mark. But there’s much you can do to assert yourself and grow your career.
Start with a Solid Education
Women are often seen as less adept at technical skills than men. Even things that are seen as women’s tasks at home, such as cooking, become men’s domain in a more professional arena. But women can be just as good at various technical skills as men can. If you want to work in a technical field, you need to start by building these skills. Chances are you already have some, or at least an interest, if you want a tech career. Going to college isn’t the only way to a tech career, but it is one of the best ways to start. As well as growing your knowledge, you’ll gain access to important contacts and experience.
Find Your Passion
You’ll go further in your career if you feel passionate about what you’re doing. You can also find it easier to gain respect if you can show a genuine enthusiasm for what you do. And, of course, it will be easier for you to learn new things if you’re interested in the subject matter. Discovering what you love might take a while, or you might already know what it is. Even if you have a broad focus for your career, you can begin to narrow it down and find out what you enjoy most. Being passionate won’t automatically get you a successful career. But it will certainly help to give you drive.
Learn to Assert Yourself
Being more assertive is something that many women need to do for their career, and not just in tech. Of course, some men need to learn to be more assertive too. But many women are socialized to be meeker, defer to others or downplay achievements. You need to be able to stand up for yourself in a variety of situations. Women often feel that they are already capable of this. But sometimes it’s also necessary to take a different approach. You might have no problem speaking up when you need to. However, sometimes you need to think about whether you’re being direct enough. Some people have a tendency to soften their words too much. They really need to be more straightforward.
Look for Mentors
As you develop your career, you can always learn from others. Having a mentor will help to guide you through your workplace and your growing career. Your mentors could be men or women. However, you might find that you prefer a woman who understands what it’s like to be a woman in tech. There are several places where you could look for mentors. You might find someone at work who is willing to help nurture your skills and career. Perhaps you might make some contacts at college or even get talking to someone online. Mentoring doesn’t have to happen in person. If you can email someone or talk to them over Skype, they can be just as valuable to you.
Continue to Develop Yourself
As you grow your career, make sure that your education didn’t stop when you finished college. It’s essential to take the initiative and continue to develop your skills of your own accord. You could take an online course by Simplilearn or a similar course provider so you can do it in your spare time. There are hundreds of courses you could take in official qualifications and supplementary material. Don’t just focus on technical skills, of course. If you want to grow your career, you might also need to consider management and leadership skills. Don’t assume that you have reached a point in your career when you don’t need to continue developing. You need to keep growing and keep up with industry changes too.
Don’t Be Afraid to Big Yourself Up
Studies have shown that men are more likely to brag about their achievements than women. In fact, there is even evidence that women often give credit to men that they don’t deserve and downplay their own achievements. But being willing to talk about yourself and the things you’ve done could help you to succeed. Instead of trying to be too humble, don’t be afraid to be proud of your achievements. Of course, there can be a fine line between bragging and promoting yourself. You should take responsibility for your efforts and let people know when you’ve done a good job. But you don’t want people to think that you’re full of yourself, so don’t lay it on too thick. You can keep things more humble by talking about what you learn or how you feel about your achievements. Mention that you’re proud of yourself, as well as your team if you worked with others. Make sure to highlight the achievements of other women in your workplace too. They will return the favor when it’s time.
Don’t Be “One of the Guys”
Everyone wants to fit in, whether it’s at school or at work. In the workplace, this often means finding a culture that’s right for you. However, in a male-oriented industry, it can sometimes be a struggle. You may feel that there’s a very masculine atmosphere. Perhaps you will feel pressured to change your behavior to fit in. However, it’s important to remember that everyone should bring something unique to the company. When you are hired, it’s hopefully based on the real you. If you change yourself to fit in, you might not be bringing anything new to the company anymore. Plus, if you want the tech world to be more welcoming to women and a wider range of men, it could be time to challenge some behavior.
Look for the Right Company Culture
Sometimes, you may find that you’re struggling to fit in. Being yourself isn’t working, but you don’t want to change to fit in either. Perhaps you even feel that the work environment isn’t very welcoming. It can be difficult, but you should try to find a company culture that works for you. Explore different types of business, from small startups to large corporations. Perhaps try slightly different industries or sectors, if your skills are flexible. It’s best to start working out if a company culture is for you before you accept a job offer. So make sure you do plenty of research help you understand what you’re going to experience in the office.
Look for Opportunities for Women
People in the tech industry know that there’s a gender disparity in the workforce. Many of them want to change it, which has led to some fantastic initiatives. If you’re a woman who wants to advance her career in tech, you can get training, funding and mentoring. Big names like Google and Microsoft have launched campaigns to try and get more women into the industry. There are networking events you can attend too. For women who want to grow their skills, scholarships and grants can be most useful. You can access funding to help pay for courses that could give you a professional edge.
Don’t Forget to Network
Having the right contacts is essential in any industry, including in tech. You should start building important contacts as soon as you start working on your career. That might be at college or in your first job in the tech field. Networking is something that you should now do both online and offline. Some people prefer to stick to offline networking, but there are still some great tools you can use. If you don’t like using LinkedIn, you can still use event pages and other useful tools to network. Make sure people know your name and your face, as well as your achievements.
Don’t Take the Easy Route
Making it in the tech industry as a woman can be hard, and it might be tempting to take things easy. However, if you don’t push yourself, you’re not going to get far. Putting on a brave face and doing things that scare you can help you go further. Things won’t be easy if you want to be successful and make something of yourself.
Women can face barriers when they’re trying to get into tech and develop their careers. But without those who are willing to push past them, nothing will change.