The under-representation of women in tech is nothing new, and while the industry is making small steps forward all the time, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure women achieve parity with men — and even more so for LGBTQ+ women and women of colour, writes Melissa Mulholland.

This is a critical issue to fix — not just as a tick box exercise or to fill a quota, but to improve and evolve as businesses. We need diversity in the workplace to see things from new perspectives, to learn from one another, and to build better and stronger together.

Building these foundations starts a long way before women enter the workplace. We need to inspire the next generation of women to take STEM subjects, encourage young girls to get involved in subjects they might have thought closed off to them.

However, even for the women coming into the tech industry now, we all need to be accountable in supporting them to reach their potential, and there are also things we as women can do in our careers to get noticed and climb the ladder. Here are my top tips to build a successful career as a woman in tech:

Make yourself heard

Women’s voices can sometimes get lost when they are in the minority. While it should not be only on our shoulders alone to change this, it is important that women are passionate about being heard. Ask difficult questions when they need to be asked and be sure to push for the answers. Of course, we need others to listen, but we have it in our power to demand that they do.

Seek out a mentor

Whether your company offers an official mentoring scheme or not, seek out a female mentor from higher up in the company whom you can learn from, who can give you advice, and who can also advocate for you when required. Of course, do be open to paying this forward with junior staff as you progress — women supporting women is big part of the solution.

Never stop learning

Widening your knowledge and pool of experience is vital when it comes to moving your way up the ladder. Find transferable skills you can use in another role, and keep adding new specialities to your CV. Continually striving to learn more and acquire new skills will not go unnoticed, and it will also give you a breadth of experience to draw on as you move forward in your career.

Perseverance is key

Don’t give up. We all make mistakes, and those mistakes can feel heavy sometimes. Chalk it up to experience and move forward with a lesson learned under your belt.

Have a clear plan

Make sure that you have clarity about the job you want two or three roles from now. It is so important to build a plan and set goals on what you need to learn and gain experience in order to reach your desired position. While the plan may change over time as you discover what you enjoy and excel at, it is crucial to accept these changes and adapt accordingly. By having a clear vision of your future goals, you can proactively seek out opportunities and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to position yourself for advancement.

Have confidence

Don’t be scared to speak up and put yourself forward for an opportunity or project. But also, advocate for yourself always. Ask for the opportunity, push for a pay rise, challenge and negotiate. Have confidence in yourself that you can disrupt your working environment for all the right reasons — if you don’t, your male counterpart almost certainly will.