Updated: Oct 7, 2020
For a long time, men have dominated the tech industry. Although women have always made huge contributions to the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, their efforts remained unnoticed and their contributions unrecognized.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin
Although we have made significant strides in gender equality within our society, there is no doubt that there is work left to be done. The tech industry is no exception to this, as men continue to outnumber women in terms of employment numbers and salary. So what are the most common challenges women in technology face today? How can we overcome these challenges?
3 Challenges Women in Tech Face Today
1. Dare to speak up?
Early on in my career, I developed a habit of not speaking up during meetings. The fear of "sounding dumb" always made me think twice before speaking my mind. When I finally overcame this fear and developed the courage to start pitching some of my ideas or providing feedback during meetings, I soon discovered a pattern. Every time I would speak, I was quickly overpowered by a male counterpart who would then "expand" on my idea. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is quite familiar to many women throughout history. For many reasons, people tend to trust men's judgments and opinions over women. Even if both male and female are communicating the same message. After doing some research online, I found many videos and articles that offered many suggestions for how women should speak during meetings. They suggested women lower their voices, avoid voice fry, or try to not be too assertive. As I am reading through all these suggestions, I couldn't help but wonder if men ever worry about their voice being too deep or perhaps coming off as too aggressive? It all just seems ridiculous to me.
Women - if you have a voice then use it! If you have an idea, own it! Stop letting society tell you what you should or should not sound like. Period.
2. The Bitch
Why is that every powerful woman that knows exactly what she wants, challenges the status quo and shows assertiveness is considered to be a B****? Yet men who exhibit the same characteristics are referred to as confident and decisive leaders? It is almost as if women are punished for showing these great skills and characteristics. There is a lot of research that will try to make sense of this and suggest that society has a pretty deeply embedded expectation of how women should carry themselves. Women are to be nurturing and caring, while men are expected to be the exact opposite.
Look, we are in 2020. Let's be real, in most households both men and women are working full-time jobs, adding to their financial health, and contributing to family decisions. Women - it is okay to be nurturing and sympathetic, while also being confident and outspoken. In fact, a balance of these characteristics is what makes a good leader or team player.
So next time you hear a co-worker referring to another woman as a b****, try to figure out why. If the fact is that the woman is a fearless and tenacious leader, then please correct them by saying "I think what you meant to say is that she is really good at what she does."
Most importantly, don't be afraid to be
your true authentic self!
3. Finding Female Role Models in Tech
Although there are definitely more women tech leaders today than there was just a few years ago, we still need more! When we think of the tech industry a diverse list of names should come up, not just your usual Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, or Bill Gates. Many women are doing AMAZING things in the tech industry and they deserve recognition (it is one of the reasons I created this blog!)
We have to ensure we are getting our voice and our work out there. Let's encourage one another to do more talks, presentations, and speeches. If your organization does not have a mentoring program, start one! Seek out women within your organization that are really good at what they do and build a mentor-mentee relationship. Let her know you think she is a BOSS and would love for her to be your mentor. Most importantly, promote each other! We need to ensure women are recognized for their amazing accomplishments.
My final piece of advice to all my Tekwomen is to remember that your voice, your ideas, and your tenacity all belong in the tech world! We need more women like you.
Keep pushing forward - you got this!
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