Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.By Anna Lewis, VP of EMEA Marketing, Databricks

I’ve always encouraged women in technology to speak up for themselves and challenge the status quo; it’s something I think about often. In an industry where women are often still the minority, how can we create change if we don’t make our voices heard

If leadership teams are dominated by men, often with outspoken personalities, it is often all too easy to slip under the radar. That’s not to say women cannot themselves be outspoken, of course. However, the often dubbed “boys club” of the technology world can make it harder to interject and speak up. A quieter voice does not equate to one without an opinion, and yet I have often faced challenges in having my own opinions heard. Turning this around is a journey, and part of the responsibility should fall onto leaders to create an environment that isn’t a battle of “who is the loudest in the room”, but rather fosters a culture of idea sharing and mutual collaboration.

There are a few lessons that I have learnt from my previous experience about how to encourage quieter voices to speak up in a crowded room.

Value diversity of opinion

In my previous role, I once found myself sitting in a meeting room whilst a problem was being deliberated. My colleagues, mostly male, were looking for a solution which I happened to have. As I did not wish to raise my voice and interject, I simply stated the solution. One of my colleagues, who was sitting next to me, and the only one to hear what I had proposed, jumped on the opportunity to share with the wider group, conveniently forgetting to mention that the idea was mine in the first place. Moments like these are all too common for our softer spoken colleagues.

It’s important to understand that individuals have different communication styles, and leaders should aim to adopt a certain level of emotional intelligence to cater towards these. Tests exist to determine individuals’ personality types and communications styles, and adapting to these can aid in facilitating more productive conversations.

Cultural differences can also play a huge role here, as I was never encouraged to speak out as a child – in fact, it still does not come naturally to me in adulthood. I have often found that preparation is the best ammunition. Always having ideas to share is how individuals can establish themselves as a go-to source for solving problems, without having to shout above the noise. Encouraging quieter spoken individuals to come with ideas, and then giving them the airtime to voice them, is crucial.

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Be inclusive and support female progression

It’s important for individuals to be surrounded with others who motivate and support them. As a woman, it’s about trying to find allies. Working with other women with similar experience and interests makes it easier to join forces and influence workplace culture and policies that benefit all employees, despite gender or career experience level. Mentorship programmes are also a great way for more junior employees to become more visible and for women to build their brand within their company.

However, ultimately, once an individual has established themselves as a trusted source for ideas and information, and built that trust with their colleagues, gender should no longer matter. This all begins with leadership actively fostering an inclusive company culture. I’m happy to say that progress has been made in this arena since I started working in the technology industry more than 25 years ago. After studying technology at a university that was 80% male and 20% female, it’s been a joy to work alongside many strong female leaders throughout my career and watch the industry continue to evolve.

Women in tech are working their way to the top and laying a solid foundation for other women who will come after them. As the world is swiftly changing, representation matters. And as women, it is crucial to embrace our individuality. It’s important for women to encourage women to speak up, and make sure their perspective is taken into account, at the same time as staying true to their own personal values.