It can be difficult to be a woman working in technology. Men dominate the field, while women hover at about 20 percent of all employees in many big tech companies, despite making up 51 percent of the overall workforce. The absence of women in the field means that the industry can feel unwelcoming to women, and like a difficult place to build a successful career.
Four women discussed the problem of gender diversity in technology today at the Connect 2016 Conference in Seattle, hosted by Women Who Code. Among other things, they gave their advice to women in the audience about how to be successful in their jobs, especially when feeling insecure.
The panelists were Kimberly Snipes, vice president of consumer products and operations technology at Capital One; Carlye Greene, senior manager of community affairs at Capital One; Jennifer Tacheff, vice president of business development at Women Who Code; and Joey Rosenberg, the director of global leadership at Women Who Code.
Here are six of their tips for women in technology:
1. Be public about your career accomplishments. “If we publicly acknowledged how great we were, it would be easier to go home at night and feel like we’re supposed to be here,” Tacheff said. “Culturally, as women, we’re not supposed to talk about our accomplishments, since it’s ‘prideful’ or something…But if we stand up and say, ‘I just got this promotion! It’s amazing and I’m kind of awesome!’ it gives other women permission to talk and feel that way, too.”
2. Challenge your company to actually measure diversity. “As female employees, we can drive dialogue, ask for transparency, and challenge our companies to do better,” Tacheff said. “Get them to set measurable goals for diversity and inclusion.”
3. Fake it till you make it. Often, women describe suffering from ‘imposter syndrome,’ feeling like they don’t belong at their jobs, Snipes said. What’s important to remember is that everyone, regardless of gender, feels that way at some point. “I show up at work and be the leader I want to be,” Snipes said. “Then I go home and have all of my self-doubt and insecurities.”
4. Recognize your little wins. “As women, celebrating our success isn’t something that’s common, publicly or privately, so something that I like to do and that I like to encourage other women to do is to recognize the ‘win column,'” Rosenberg said. “If you’re having a rough day, it’s probably because of one or two things that are causing you to doubt yourself, but there are probably eight things you did really awesome….Even if it’s a small thing, put it in your win column, celebrate it, and remind yourself of it.”
5. Do the Amy Cuddy superhero stance. “It’s actually been proven that if you stand like this for two minutes, your serotonin levels go up,” Tacheff said, hands on her hips, chest forward. Higher serotonin translates into more confidence. “We’re all superwomen,” she said.
6. Get men involved. They have just as much stake in having women succeed as women do, Greene said, since including women means they’ll have better teams and better results. “Often, women sit around trying to fix women’s issues,” Greene said. “But that’s never getting to change because we’re the ones who feel it…Diversity and inclusion is everyone’s issue to move forward and to help solve for.”
The Women Who Code Connect 2016 conference continues today in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. Also see our previous recap of a talk at the event by Regina Wallace-Jones, Facebook’s head of security operations.