4 Pieces of Advice from Women in Tech
The lack of diversity in the technology field has been well-documented. On average, women make up just a third of the tech workforce. And in many firms, the numbers don’t even go that high! We can blame this gender disparity on poor recruitment efforts, a boy’s-club culture, or unconscious bias … whatever the problem is, we know it harms the industry overall.
With a lack of diversity comes a lack of perspective. Groupthink is all too common in companies with a homogeneous workforce. There’s a lack of understanding when it comes to the experiences of others, and as a result, these companies are less successful at speaking to the needs of their varied customer base. In short, a lack of diversity curtails true innovation.
At Savvy Coders, we have a passion for teaching technology skills to underserved communities. This passion naturally extends to the support of pioneering women in the tech field. To celebrate this Women’s History Month, we’ve decided to highlight a few women in tech. Each of these leaders has some advice for those of us just starting out.
1. Focus on What You Love
“I think the best piece of advice I can give to anyone with a dream is to never be afraid to share your dreams and talk about what you wish to create and see in the world. It’s often hard to share those pipedreams at the risk that they might not work out, but you never know who has the collaborations, networks, and visions to make your dreams a reality.” – Shree Bose, Co-Founder of Piper
We’re willing to bet that you first got into tech because you liked numbers, enjoyed working with computers, or were inspired by the possibilities the modern world of technology has to offer. Instead of focusing on the potential pitfalls of a tech career, focus on what made you love this work in the first place. Like Shree Bose of Piper emphasizes, you never know who’s out there with the keys to your dream. Put yourself and your passion out into the world!
2. Join a Team That Values Diversity
“A diversity of thought, perspective and culture is important in any field, not just engineering. Surround yourself with people who support you and get involved in [coding] programs.” – Sarah Friar, CFO at Square
We encourage you to value diversity and make it a priority from the very beginning of your tech career. You can even get a feel for a firm’s commitment to diversity in your initial interview. Ask about a firm’s culture. Ask for real examples that demonstrate the firm’s diversity – not just HR-speak. By valuing yourself, your contributions, and your voice, you force others to listen.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for What You Want
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It is easy to allow insecurities about age/experience level to prevent you from making a big demand, or asking for a meeting with an influential person, or even admitting that you need help. However, if you don’t at least pose the question, it will probably never happen. So go for it! You might be surprised at what can happen if you just ask.” – Olivia Pavco-Giaccia, Founder of Lab Candy
We’ve all been there … we’re not 100% percent sure about something, so we just keep quiet. Sound familiar? The problem with this attitude is that it doesn’t allow for growth. Silence keeps you stuck in the same place.
Would you like a little extra training? Are you unsure about a project? Do you think you deserve a raise? Ask! Don’t let fear or insecurity hold you back. Get uncomfortable and keep learning. We’re fond of this piece of advice from another woman in the tech field: “You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.”
4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
“Feeling a little uncomfortable with your skills is a sign of learning, and continuous learning is what the tech industry thrives on! It’s important to seek out environments where you are supported, but where you have the chance to be uncomfortable and learn new things.” – Vanessa Hurst, Co-Founder of Girl Develop It
Instead of comparing yourself to other people, compare the you of last year to the you of today. What have you learned? How have you grown? If you do this, you’ll find that day by day, month by month, and year by year, you’re getting closer to your dreams.
Believe in yourself. You ARE cut out for this.