Women have been making great strides, particularly in politics, entertainment, and most of all, technology. Computing always used to be a male-driven industry because it was considered a man’s job. Back in the day, IT was more about laying cables and working with big pieces of equipment, and women weren’t thought of as capable or even willing to do the job. This has changed in the last few years, and ultimately for the better.
You will find thousands of stories online about female CEOs who have opened tech businesses from nothing. Still, women only make up 26% of the total American workforce in information technology, which is unfortunate, to say the least. For any woman that wants to get into IT or has been stuck in a junior position for years, you will benefit from the following words of advice.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
The only real way to succeed in any career is to go for what you want and speak up about what you plan to accomplish. If you know what you want out of your IT career, then you can avoid what you don’t want. Be goal-orientated and set yourself just three small, but realistic tasks that you want to achieve each month. Show that you are committed to improving your performance and growing your skills in your position. Make yourself available to take on larger jobs that might have scared you off before.
Once you have determined what you expect to achieve from your career in IT, you will know the barriers that you need to navigate. Remind yourself that you also have a voice that deserves to be heard and put yourself first. Be clear about your expectations to your manager, and what you need to succeed in your job role. Own your responsibilities and show that you have the capability and talents to go after what you want. Make the most of every occasion and try to be a bit more confident in your workplace.
Become More Educated
Technology is constantly changing. If this is the career that you have chosen, then you already know that IT changes just as fast as the weather. Keep educating yourself on aspects that you aren’t familiar with. Research the many sectors of IT and whether you need to up your game or not. Find unique ways that you can apply your skills more effectively in the workplace. Actively look for new responsibilities you can take on and ones that can be added to your resume. One key area of IT that is more male dominated than the rest is building computers. Most women that you meet in IT work as programmers or developers. Even if that is the case with you, you can benefit from going outside your comfort zone and teaching yourself about the nitty gritty part of IT.
Learn about the different components that make up a server. If you see an old tower or router lying around, take it apart and build it back up. Understand why certain graphics cards go better with specific motherboards and CPUs. The next time you need to buy a CPU or new graphics card you will have a better idea of what to look for. You can save some time and click here to get an idea of the best graphics cards available and the capabilities of each. The more you know, the greater chance you have of improving your IT skills and landing that job you have always wanted. There is so much that you can learn to showcase your technical abilities, you just need to be creative.
Find Someone to Mentor You
One challenging part about working in IT as a woman is that you often feel left out with the rest of the team. Get to know the people that you work with and find someone that you can rely on to have your back. Find someone on a higher level than you and one that you can shadow to get some additional experience. It doesn’t need to be another woman, just someone that you are comfortable with in a working environment. It is always better to have the support of a colleague in a more senior position than you because they can help you navigate different workplaces and provide advice on how to perform better in your job.
You also need to earn the respect of those that you work with. If someone in a top position has your back, they can help you earn the respect that you deserve. You may need to work on techniques to gain respect in the workplace. Just keep in mind that being the loudest or angriest person doesn’t earn respect, only fear, and annoyance. Earn it by showing that you are every bit as capable as the next person, maybe more.
Jump in with Both Feet
Being in the tech industry can cause anxiety for women, especially when competing for a promotion or landing that big client. Take a leap of faith and find ways that you can take charge of more responsibilities. Jump in the deep end and ask for more tasks at work. If you are gunning for a better position, go for it. Women haven’t gotten this far by keeping quiet and staying where they are. One report by HP showed that women in the IT department only applied for promotions when they had met 100% of their certifications. Men did so at 60%. This shows a lack of confidence.
Practice being confident and know that your skills are good enough to take you further in your career. Apply yourself. Take initiative and put yourself in the middle of those weekly strategy meetings. Show the people that you work with that your gender doesn’t define your capabilities. It takes great effort to be assertive in an IT position, but those things can also be taught.
More and more women are realizing the opportunity for personal and professional growth within IT and are jumping on every opportunity to showcase their technical skills and as a woman in IT, you should too.