The tech industry is stereotypically a sector in which men are more likely to achieve success than women. While this stereotype does have legs (few executive jobs in tech are held by women), a wave of change in recent years has meant that the tech world has had to face a reckoning regarding gender equity in the workplace. You can see examples of this reckoning in the work of Sheryl Sandberg and her famous Lean In movement. Sandberg made waves while working at Google and then at Facebook, where she is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO).
How can tech firms be more inclusive of diverse genders and supportive of the women in their ranks? How can women take advantage of the opportunities that the tech sector has to offer them? Let’s take a look at some tips for navigating the IT industry as a woman.
Find a mentor who you trust.
Being a minority in a large (or a small) tech firm can be daunting. This is true for women entrepreneurs, and especially for entrepreneurs who are women of color. Whatever your background, the best way to navigate things is by finding a mentor you can lean on as you develop your career. Whether you want to work your way to the top of an existing firm or have dreams of becoming a business owner yourself, a mentor who shares in your experience will be able to opine about the challenges you may face and help you avoid unnecessary slip-ups. Simply put, a mentor can take a long time it would have taken to get where you want to be and make it a whole lot shorter.
Don’t put up with discomfort or demands that you make lifestyle changes.
If you work at a firm that men dominate, it’s important to be aware of how that impacts the quality of life for women or nonbinary genders. Something as simple as having a bathroom on a whole other floor, or having to search everywhere for Canadian spring water while you’re having a hot flash, makes the workday full of discomfort that the men don’t have to deal with.
For example, if you’re a woman in tech who is managing menopause symptoms during the summer, you can demand that adjustments to the air conditioning be minimal since that will affect your hot flashes adversely. Likewise, women in menopause often experience an aversion to spicy food or caffeine, in addition to hot flashes, as a result of fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels. So, if your firm is hosting a Taco Tuesday, make sure to have some non-spicy options for the menopausal women in your midst. Simple adjustments like this make your employees understand that you take women’s health seriously.
Remember, you are an important addition to your firm.
Women, especially older women, are more likely to doubt their company’s contribution and avoid asking for a promotion or a raise. This is true whatever ethnicity the woman in question is from, but it is especially true for women of color. Remember‚Äîyou got hired for a reason. This startup needs you and your expertise. The first step to fighting the reluctance to get yours is to take deep breaths and remember all of your qualifications that got you here in the first place. Maybe try listening to some uplifting podcasts, or take a gander at Glassdoor or LinkedIn to see what other businesswomen are earning. With that clarity, you’ll be better prepared to negotiate your salary or position.
The path of entrepreneurship isn’t an easy one, but it can be an exciting one. The tech sector is full of development opportunities, so if you are a woman with dreams of being a tech giant, get in there and don’t be shy. There’s a place for you at the startup of your dreams.