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Proven Ways to Succeed in Your IT Career as a Woman

By: James Cummings

It is well documented that the female IT community is much smaller than the male community. Current estimates suggest that only 15% of people in high tech companies are women. Across 84 companies pooled in this public document, the number of women in software architecture or writing is just 19%.

Apart from the fact that the number of women in the field is low, a high number of them leave the IT field having worked in it for a long period of time. Women in high tech fields are more likely to leave their roles in comparison to women in other professions for a variety of reasons. Some of the main reasons mentioned include being underpaid, unfair treatment and the lack of career advancement opportunities in comparison to their male counterparts.

The statistics will be more favourable if more women are prepared for the reality on ground before they accept positions. If more women are more aware of the situation in a male dominated field, they can build better coping mechanisms that will allow them to succeed.  Here are top tips to guide you.

Place emphasis on confidence

The lack of female role models and female colleagues and the method of socialisation for women make it easy for many women to get lost in a confidence crisis. As the only woman around or one of the few women around, it is easy to get sucked into trying to stand up for all women. When you don’t do well at something, therefore, you feel like you have let down the entire women population. To avoid this, remind yourself of why you were hired in the first place, dust off any setback and remind yourself that you are only responsible for yourself.

Speak up regularly

If you have anything to say, articulate it properly and make yourself heard. When you speak up often on important issues, more of your colleagues will better understand who you are. Making yourself heard in a boisterously male environment can be difficult but speaking up regularly is the perfect way to integrate your thoughts and ideas.

Avoid employers with a male oriented culture

“From the recruitment stage, you can immediately know if an employer is heavy on the male-oriented culture” says Jane Khan at Sistema Technologies. “Watch for languages used to describe the role and pinpoint any masculinity-inclined terms such as “competitiveness” and “demanding”. The best companies for women have programs created to ensure flexibility. Such companies also use quantifiable goals in their performance reviews, leaving no room for any ambiguities. If you get into a company with a female friendly culture, you can increase your chances of success in your career path.”

Find a Mentor

If you are to make the ascent to a management or an executive role, you need to find male and female mentors and sponsors in your field. The mentor will be your support and backbone and help you stay on the right path when you are about to veer off.

Remain True to Yourself

Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of trying to blend in. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Don’t put the needs of others first and don’t focus on what others might think about your opinion or how they might be affected. To succeed in your IT career, you need to be a thorough professional and in  many cases, this involves ignoring what people think about you.