The tech industry is dominated by men, which is why it has earned the reputation of being a “boy’s club.” In fact, women only hold 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley. Women who are employed by tech companies also tend to earn far less and quit at higher rates than their male counterparts. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment are also major problems that women face within the tech industry. Many tech companies fail to take action to protect their female employees from discrimination and harassment until a story leaks to the press and the company must go into damage control mode.
As you can see, women face a number of challenges when they choose to work in the tech industry. But, they shouldn’t let these obstacles get in their way of advancing to the position that they desire. Here’s how women can bust through the glass ceiling in the tech industry:
Speak openly about your accomplishments
Women are far less likely to talk about their accomplishments than men. Why? According to research, this could be because women feel they are supposed to be modest, and speaking about their accomplishments goes against this social norm. Women often report feeling nervous or anxious after being forced to talk about their accomplishments with others, and may even undersell themselves so they don’t seem as if they are bragging.
But, in order to get ahead in the tech industry, women have to become more comfortable with talking about their accomplishments. People tend to get promoted when they demonstrate that they are capable of achieving great success. But, if you don’t let your boss know about your accomplishments to prove what you are capable of, who will?
To make yourself more comfortable, focus on discussing the skills that you have acquired instead of the goals you have accomplished. This way, you won’t have to look at it as bragging about an accomplishment, but rather informing your superiors what you have learned. If you worked with others to complete a project, make sure you highlight every person’s role, including your own. Don’t call out certain team members’ contributions without acknowledging what you brought to the table.
Create a network with other women
Women who work in the tech industry may feel isolated or like an outsider because they are outnumbered by men. Not being comfortable at work could affect your job performance and how you present yourself, so it’s important to bring yourself out of isolation by networking with other women.
There may not be a lot of other women in your office, but there is probably a handful that you can connect with. These women are experiencing all of the same challenges that you are, so lean on each other for support. Also, remember that there is strength in numbers. Women should be each other’s biggest allies in the tech industry. If your boss asks you what you think of your female co-worker, take this as an opportunity to talk about how intelligent and hardworking she is instead of putting her down. When one woman succeeds in the tech world, she paves the way for many other women behind her, so it’s important to work together when it comes to shattering the glass ceiling.
Don’t let fear get the best of you
Being a woman in the tech industry can be challenging, but you should never let fear get the best of you. Don’t turn down opportunities that may help you in your career because you feel as if you are not good enough. Don’t refrain from contributing ideas and feedback during team meetings because you think no one will take you seriously. Be fearless so you can show your co-workers that you will not be pushed around because you are a woman.
You can’t earn respect in the tech industry if you don’t know what you’re talking about. No one—man or woman—should expect to succeed if they don’t make an effort to learn new skills and grow professionally. Because women often have to go to greater lengths to prove themselves in the tech industry, it’s even more important for them to continue learning new skills that could help them advance their careers. Ask questions, learn from others around you, and if you make a mistake, go back and review what you did so you know why you made the mistake and how you can avoid it next time. Keep up with the latest news in the tech industry and share relevant articles with your co-workers and superiors. If you want to be taken seriously in the tech industry, you have to take your work seriously.
Know your rights
Above all else, it’s important to be familiar with your rights as a woman in the workplace. Women are protected from discrimination based on gender, which means the fact that you are a woman cannot prevent you from being hired, receiving raises, or advancing within a company. Women are also protected against harassment, so managers, co-workers, and even the company’s clients cannot sexually harass you in the workplace. If you feel your rights are being violated, it’s imperative that you speak up. Let your employer know if your rights are being violated, and if they fail to protect you, pursue legal action by contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). By holding your employer accountable for violating women’s rights, you are protecting your rights and preventing the employer from treating other women in the same manner.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly in the tech industry because you are a woman, seek legal representation as soon as possible. Schedule a free consultation with Shegerian & Associates by calling 1-800-GOT-FIRED or visiting us online.