Have you ever wondered what it’s like – and what it takes – to succeed and flourish as a woman in the male-dominated technology industry?
Based on my experience, there’s great satisfaction and fulfillment to be gained in this exciting, fast-paced and constantly changing industry, but it doesn’t hurt to know a few shortcuts and learn from shared experience to make the most of it.
Below is a survival guide of sorts that I’ve put together based on my own time in the industry, which I trust will be useful as you encounter your own journey and chart your own path.
- Find your Tribe. Often times I am the only woman in meetings, outnumbered 10 to 1, which can leave me feeling alone and isolated. My tip to balance it out; join some female empowerment groups on LinkedIn, Slack etc. where you can share your thoughts and feelings with other women in the indusry. Embrace diversity too, and ensure you network with people from different backgrounds so you grow your mindset and learn from other women on different paths in life.
- Never try and compete or compare yourself. We are all different. We bring different skillsets and views to the table. Always bring your best, and that is enough. Sometimes we yearn for recognition or senior titles, only to find out that the praise is short lived, the pressure just builds up, and it is less enjoyable than what we envisioned.
- Do not outsource your happiness. Don’t let your self-esteem be affected by other people’s opinions, good or bad. Do things that build your self-esteem, be it self-improvement courses, meditation, yoga, sport or affirmations. Build on your resilience skills because it is resilience that will help you face challenges without crumbling.
- Ask for everything in writing. If you are unclear on instructions, ask for a demo or to elaborate in writing. Often people forget what they asked for or they contradict previous messages. Having it in writing can really help you out as things can be portrayed differently during performance reviews or heated discussions where people may be under pressure.
- Start with the end goal in mind. If you have 50 things to do in one week then I would suggest write down the most important tasks and do them first. Sometimes we can’t get through our workload, so planning and prioritising can be of great benefit. Raise risks or issues and escalate them up the line where necessary. Do not be afraid to let your peers know that you have too much on your plate. Setting boundaries and putting your wellbeing first will demonstrate that you have self confidence and belief. When we put your wellbeing first, you have more to give in the long run. Some people try and impress others by keeping going irrespective of stress, but usually you see these people crash and burn at some point.
- Get a mentor. Find someone that really believes in you and always wants what is best for you. Personally I have a ballsy mentor in the UK and when I get stuck or over emotional and need to make any big decisions, I write down what bothers me and then call him. He is a senior leader so can always give me perspective on how a CEO/MD may think. We tend to get overwhelmed by things that are insignificant and voicing it to someone else can really help put things into context.
- Do not use finger pointing or blame others. Own your mistakes or phrase things in a way that is not an accusation. That way you will get the most out of everyone. If you want to get people’s backs up, start naming and shaming. I can guarantee that you will have very few friends and in time no one will want to work with you or help you out. Compassion, empathy and kindness will get you much further than blaming others.
- Stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Just because you may be outnumbered does not mean your viewpoint is wrong. If you really believe that you have valuable input to give and you are not being heard, then speak to someone who can support you in that. It is also ok to ask dumb questions, you will be surprised how little other people know but are too afraid to ask about as they are fearful of sounding foolish. We are all human.If you sound silly, laugh at yourself. Nothing is lost from opening up conversations.
- Believe in yourself and your dreams. Be the person today that you envision yourself to be one day. Start living the values that you want to see in others. In other words, if you want to be a leader one day but keep gossiping and displaying behavioural issues, work on yourself to become the great leader you want to be. There are many guided meditations online to help with this, as well as positive affirmations.
- See yourself as a servant leader. Women are generally well organised and are fantastic planners. Use your skills. Book planning meetings, send an agenda and help everyone plan around new implementations, deliverables and goals. Use your collaboration skills to your advantage.
- Find a work environment that is a culture fit. Like with dating, not everyone is a match. If you are not happy at work and tried everything you can to make it work for you but you feel like you do not fit in, then find a job where you are a match to the culture. Do not assume that all companies have the same work ethics or culture. Seek until you find what you are looking for.
- Meditate. Meditation is good for your health and wellbeing. It’s proven to increase focus, patience and tolerance. I try and meditate daily. It helps me gain perspective of the bigger picture and it is the best tool I know for helping with stress. Below is a link for the 6 best guided meditations for 2021 to get you started: https://www.verywellmind.com/best-guided-meditations-4843806