With the gender pay gap still very much in place and the IT sector still a male-dominated field, you could be forgiven for thinking there is little hope for women looking to succeed in the industry. But despite this somewhat disconsolate outlook, the technology sector is actually a great place for women to pave their careers. In fact, you might say it’s one of the working world’s best-kept secrets. So how can female technology professionals really add value to their career? While there are obvious solutions, including working hard to gain a promotion and meeting objectives in order to move into the next pay bracket, those are just the beginning. Progressing in a predominantly male sector can be challenging, but by utilising the options available it can really pay off.
Network. Don’t underestimate the power of a networking. With social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and particularly LinkedIn, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with old contacts, friends and colleagues. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile then set one up – it’s a great tool to showcase your abilities and experience for the business world to see. It also gives colleagues the chance to publically acknowledge their appreciation for you by recommending you. You never know who may have a great opportunity for you. Many people have also found jobs through Twitter so ensure you fill out your bio with what you do – and if you’re looking for a new opportunity, say so! Also, remember that your network doesn’t just consist of the people you know but friends of friends, and their friends too – think of the ‘seven degrees of separation’ experiment. The more people you connect with the more doors you could open. Face-to-face networking events are also really useful ways of meeting new people, getting advice from those who may have been in your position and expanding your network.
Move jobs. It’s widely known that men tend to change jobs more often than women, who are perhaps more loyal to long-term employers. And although it’s just one of many factors, this is one reason why men are often promoted above women and enjoy more pay rises; they go after the opportunities. We find that females often underestimate their abilities – whereas most men will put themselves forward for a position if they tick 60% of the boxes, most women will only do so if they tick 80%. Don’t be afraid to move positions if the time is right or a good opportunity comes along, and remember that a job specification is just a wish list – aim high. Recent figures have showed that it may be almost 100 years before we have truly equal pay – it’s time for women to play a part in changing that – by asking for more.
Find a mentor. Getting regular advice and guidance from a mentor that you trust and respect is a fantastic way to progress your career. Someone more senior than you, who will have once been in your shoes, will be able to offer words of wisdom that may prove very helpful.
Be confident. Many women struggle with selling themselves and their achievements; but this is crucial if you want to be in the running for a promotion. HR Director at Unilever, Helen Wyatt argued in a recent FT article: “Women are probably much less ready to put themselves forward for promotion – they will tell you what they haven’t done, and point out the gaps on their CV – which is directly opposite to what men will do.” Make sure you share your successes and believe in yourself – it really is half the battle.
Make the right choices. It may sound obvious, but think carefully about your career choices. Make sure you’re working at a company where you’re happy. If you want to take a particular career path, choose an employer where that progression is possible, and supported.
Technology is a great and exciting industry to work in, with so many options and opportunities. You don’t have to act like a man to succeed in a male dominated industry, but confidence, self belief and not only doing a good job but being seen to be doing a good job is key to career progression.