Women in tech have always faced challenges in a male-dominated industry, but the tide is turning. Women now enjoy powerful, fulfilling, engaging careers in tech, as modern companies make the shift to real inclusiveness in the workplace.
Read about my journey in tech, and my thoughts on how to embrace your career as a woman today.
Tech has traditionally been considered a male-dominated field, and there are a number of reasons for this.
Historically, education in tech was not really set up, developed and offered for women in either an undergraduate or higher education context. Nor was there a proper understanding of the impact of diversity in the workplace and how it positively influenced collaboration, value creation and innovation.
There has also long been a pattern of men being unfairly promoted ahead of women, and a lack of female members on executive boards, in the tech industry.
Luckily however, the tide is turning. There has been a shift towards diversity and inclusion in modern tech businesses. And crucially, women are no longer waiting for social prejudices to change or for companies to change their views. They are stepping up, developing themselves and recognizing and embracing their uniqueness within the professional, and specifically tech, world.
There is a saying from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and Founder of Leanin.org, which describes perfectly where we are now headed:
“The word ‘female,’ when inserted in front of something, is always with a note of surprise. Female COO, female pilot, female surgeon — as if the gender implies surprise … One day, there won’t be female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
How forward-thinking companies today foster inclusive environments for women
A female-friendly company embraces diversity in culture. It creates equal opportunities for both women and men to work, learn, contribute and develop themselves, and rewards employees based on fair, transparent performance goals.
Moreover, it establishes a culture of speaking up and allowing employee feedback. This is crucial.
Companies must also be creating mentoring programs for women who are aiming for executive level and leadership positions. Additionally, they should focus their efforts on recruitment programs that connect, encourage and sponsor young women at school/university who are interested in STEM careers.
I’m lucky to say that at Siemens, there’s a true culture of inclusion for women with clear, transparent and supportive recruitment, training, coaching and career paths. This kind of structural support helps women to make themselves visible, progress as far as possible and be fairly evaluated in terms of talents and contributions.
My advice for other women in tech?
It’s important to know who you are, what inspires you and what you want to contribute to society in the long run. Being a female should definitely not be a hindrance to anyone wanting to pursue a career in tech.
My advice to females in this industry is to be passionate about what you want to do, believe in yourself and give yourself the chance to learn and grow. Define your career goals and be patient, committed and able to recognize opportunity when it comes. If possible, find mentors who work in the jobs you aspire to.
Also choose companies that provide a working environment that embraces your values and empowers you to engage in the activities and development of the company.
Finally, do your due diligence when it comes to choosing your workplace. Look into the job satisfaction and promotional opportunities of women at prospective companies. Make sure the environment is unbiased, respectful and professional towards females and if you intend on having a family one day, look for flexible working hour policies that will be able to accommodate your needs.
We as women are responsible for our dreams and our futures. Always remember that challenges can become stepping stones instead of hurdles as long as we take initiative to create our own opportunities, conquer our goals and live by our values.