Navigating a Career Path in Tech as a Woman – Challenges and Opportunities

Navigating a Career Path in Tech as a Woman – Challenges and-01

The tech industry has a long way to go towards equality and equity in the workspace, and with men dominating the space; it can be difficult for a woman trying to compete. Here is some advice from industry experts on overcoming some of the challenges in the industry.

In the last few decades, the world has made giant strides in the involvement of women in the workforce. As per a report by Catalyst, women make up around 46.9% of the total workforce.

Even though a lot of progress has been made by women, things still do not look promising enough when it comes to the tech industry. The tech industry, unfortunately, lags behind the rest of the job market when it comes to hiring women. There is a massive gender gap between men and women in the industry, and this gap manifests itself through multiple aspects, like employment opportunities, leadership opportunities, perception at the workplace, wages, and more.

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Choosing a Career in Tech

Even though the percentage of employed women across every job sector in the US has grown to 47%, the five most prominent tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft) only have a workforce of about 34.4% women.

Kay Baines, Operations Security Manager at A&O IT Group, says, “For women looking to start a career in tech or cyber, the best advice I can give is be confident and don’t let the lack of women put you off.  It’s likely there are more women in Cyber Security than you might realize. And in terms of the industry in general, there are certainly more women coming into Cyber Security, and they are being welcomed. It is still a male dominant industry, but if you have the skills to succeed, then now is the time to put those skills to the test.”

Women in Leadership Positions

‘Women in leadership positions’ still remains a sensitive issue. The industry is talking about it, and the realization they could benefit from more female leadership seems to be growing, but at the same time, global statistics show that almost nothing has changed. The power at the highest level remains in the hands of men, whilst demographic developments take a different direction.

Patricia Prince Taggart, General Counsel, Digital.ai, says, “When I started my career, most of the industry was male-dominated.  I made a move from private practice into technology because I believe that technology is an equalizer.  Technology should be accessible to everyone, no matter their gender, race, or sexual preference.

“When I started, there were fewer women in leadership positions than there are today. There are still not enough women in leadership roles, but it is certainly better than when I started my own career.  The advice I give to women I mentor is, don’t undersell your capabilities or your personal brand. When mentoring women at career crossroads who doubt themselves, I often say that no man ever says he isn’t qualified for the project, next role, or promotion. So ask for the job, take the job, and worry less about how it fits into your future; get the experience and prove your value”, she adds.

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Change is Coming

For the first time in decades, the world is witnessing examples of female leaders emerging from across the generations to cross-weave their knowledge and drive for change. Today, there are capable and ambitious women running big corporations who can create a physical change through technology and policy.

Enterprises need to ensure there are sufficient rungs on the ladder to help women climb into management positions. Today, technology has a big role to play and responsibility in promoting diversity in the workplace, given its ability to encourage transparency, connect people around the world and change working relationships. In a period of constant change, companies that prioritize a diverse culture will be in a better position to successfully address the issues of the future.

Therese Mendoza, Senior Security Consultant at Trustwave SpiderLabs, says, Advice I would give other women who want to work in cybersecurity is to challenge yourself. Don’t fear a field that may seem intimidating. It’s perpetual learning and if you’re passionate about cybersecurity and technology, then do it. It’s definitely a male-dominated industry, but once you get to where you want to go, it can be very fulfilling. Keep in mind that every small step counts and the insight of every person, women included, makes a huge impact”, she adds.

Now that technology is all-pervasive, the conventional sector lines have become blurred. Companies that cling to outdated structures will get overtaken and left behind. If technology is supposed to serve humanity, then big decisions should be taken from a gender balanced perspective.

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Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.