Women in Tech: Everything You Need to Know About Excelling in a Male-Dominated Industry
It goes without saying that information technology (IT) is a male-dominated world. So, does it take for a woman to excel in this field?
What does it take for a woman to excel in a male-dominated industry like information technology?
We spoke to some of the top women in the tech industry to find out. From how they made it to where they are today, to what challenges they faced and key advice they have for up-and-coming women, here’s what they had to say.
How Does a Woman “Make It” in Tech? Advice for Women in a Male-Dominated Industry
Look for co-workers and a boss who has your back.
Sometimes, it’s clients and not co-workers who cause issues when you’re a female in tech. Like it or not, many clients simply assume that the tech professionals they’re going to hire are going to be male. If a female appears instead, they may make unfortunate and false assumptions about that female’s abilities.
According to Korin Roehm of Ulistic LP an MSP Marketing agency in Highlands County, FL, “The biggest challenge I face is getting basic respect from my clients to take my answer at face value and not to turn to my boss to get an answer that matches what they want.” Melissa Crawford, also of Ulistic, agrees: “I can’t really think of any examples besides all 40 of my male clients running to my higher-ups who happen to be male with any questions concerns or comments.”
In these situations, it goes a long way to have co-workers and a boss at your workplace who will give you the respect and esteem you deserve. As Roehm says: “Luckily, I’ve been able to overcome this with a boss that has my back and having strong women in my office to mentor me on the challenges they faced.”
Learn how to build trust with clients by knowing your stuff and getting the job done.
Although Melissa Crawford of Ulistic states that it’s frustrating and a challenge when your clients prefer to go to your higher-ups who are male, she says that the answer is not to simply complain, but rather to prove yourself:
“Really, the only way to overcome [this] is to actually get the job done. You’re not going to get any respect until you can prove you’re getting the job done. Until the point, you’re just a peon.”
Julie Lough of Micro Visions agrees: “The key is building trust, which means you need to be technically competent, demonstrate that knowledge, build relationships, and be a go-giver to others … Don’t dwell on what you perceive to be a roadblock; ignore it, be positive, and find ways to make it happen.”
Don’t “go looking” for trouble where there is none.
Lastly, remember that, while yes, the tech industry is male-dominated, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to face challenges as a result. In fact, a number of women haven’t found the lack of women and abundance of men to be a problem in the tech industry.
Take Jen Young of ARCIS Technology Group, for example. “In my 23 plus years in IT, I have been lucky enough not to have felt too much negativity or challenges with being female in a male-dominated field throughout my career,” she says. “It has never been much of an issue for me.”
Often, seeing things this way is about working hard to build your own confidence. “I have noticed some women in male-dominated fields such as IT lack self-confidence and feel inferior. They struggle with self-doubt which contributes to [their] struggles in my opinion.”
In many ways, what Young is saying is to “fake it till you make it.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this concept. Even if you are nervous at a new job or concerned about your abilities as you enter into a new project, work on your confidence and the way you hold yourself.
In addition to the skill, knowledge, and experience you bring to your position, your confidence can go a long way at securing your rightful place in this male-dominated industry.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.