Joining a sector where women are seriously under-represented can be daunting, but the world of tech is exciting and full of opportunities. At Colateral, we’re proud that our women lead in all areas of the Colateral Product and form 55% of our team. So, in this article and for international women’s day, we’re offering advice to grow your career from our very own women in tech.
Here are some of our team’s top tips for women pursuing a career in tech:
“I think it really pays to find other women working in your field on Twitter or similar and surround yourself with their voices. Women are in the minority but you don’t have to feel excluded or othered. There is a huge community of women out there offering support, mentoring, advice and encouragement. The best advice I have seen on Twitter (from the women I follow) when interviewing is to ask why the last woman on the team left the company. You can learn a lot from this answer.”
Here are just a few of the mentoring programmes we found:
As most tech companies are “male-dominated”, they’re prone to think in a certain way. In reality, every business needs diversity to bring new ideas, different perspectives and additional skills. As one of our team commented, “Be yourself, be confident in the qualities and skills that have got you where you are today and know that you can make a positive impact in any business.”
Going into a team full of guys can feel like entering a boys club. However, one of our team suggests you don’t have to fit in and can be a voice for change; “You don’t have to pretend to be one of the guys if you’re in a team of all men. The mentoring tips always tell women to stop saying sorry, but I disagree; I think softening workplace communication by being overly polite is actually a good thing and makes it a nicer place to work.”
It’s not uncommon to feel dismissed or belittled when presenting ideas or asking for things. But it’s important to step up, take ownership and fight your corner. As one of our team put it “Don’t take no for an answer!”
Have you ever been in a room where everyone agreed with a decision, but you fundamentally believed it was wrong?
In 1986, the orbiter Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after its launch. The project was led by decision makers and top echelons at NASA and Morton Thiokol, who focused more on satisfying its major customer than the safety of the launch and its crew members. As the American public was becoming disinterested in spaceflight, NASA saw the dwindling popularity and excitement of their space shuttle program. The team prioritised speed to launch over safety for this reason. It is believed that “groupthink” was the cause of the problem, with all parties coming from similar backgrounds and agreeing with this approach.
Case studies like this prove the need for diversity and make your voice even more important. As one of our team commented, “If you are the only woman in the room, in a meeting, or on your team, your voice really matters. Multiple studies have found that diversity equals better success at solving problems, working collaboratively and increasing revenue!”
It’s even more important to speak up if you see your team going with a decision you believe is wrong. And you can truly add value this way.
Finally, it can feel daunting to speak up for what you want. But as one of our team highlighted, “Don’t be afraid. If you want it, you can do it!”
There is greater opportunity every day for women in all areas. If tech excites you, go for it! Be inspired. Reach out to mentors.
If you’re looking to get started in tech, we’re always looking for remarkable women to join Colateral. Just drop us a message, and we’ll be happy to speak with you and find an opportunity that’s right for you.
Or, for more advice, resources, and #womenintech events, check out these resources: