Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

How women can empower each other to thrive in the tech world

Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

Article provided by Ann-Kathrin Sauthoff-Bloch, Partner and Managing Director at Infosys Consulting

The game-changing #MeToo movement showed how women in positions of power can raise one another, inspire, and influence, and be a positive role model for others.

This final article in the series will explore how women can empower themselves and each other to not only survive but thrive in the tech industry.

8 TOP TIPS TO EMPOWER EACH OTHER

Create Support Groups

It can be especially lonely at the top with female executives often being the lone voice at the decision-making table and in male-dominated power lunches and dinners. This is not surprising with women forming only 16% of the workforce in the tech industry with just 5% in senior leadership roles.

It is crucial for women to form peer-to-peer and cross-level support groups with like-minded individuals to alleviate the feeling of isolation in the workplace. It can also be a powerful platform to freely exchange ideas and voice your thoughts and experiences on sensitive topics like depression, stress, anxiety, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment. Support groups play a huge role in enabling women to escape the negative loop of feeling they are alone

Share Your Story (with the good, bad, and ugly bits)

Women can feel more empowered if they have awareness of and access to positive role models. Taking inspiration from success stories of other female leaders, entrepreneurs and achievers can inject that extra dose of motivation to propel women ahead in their careers.

Female leaders should leverage the support groups within their organisation to share their journeys and not only talk about the strengths and attributes that helped them succeed but also their vulnerabilities, failures, and the obstacles they overcame to seize opportunities and realise their goals. The more women speak openly about their trials and tribulations the more confidence they can inspire in others to not let mistakes and setbacks dent their resolve to succeed.

Mentor and Sponsor

Senior female leaders in the firm should proactively offer themselves as mentors or executive sponsors for female staff who show aspirations and potential to reach higher positions. This is all the more important in the post-Covid world which has seen a major exodus of women from the workforce.

Mentors can provide their sage advice and leverage their experience to provide direction and guidance. Executive sponsors can use their personal credibility, reputation, and networks to level the playing field and offer connections and introductions that women would not otherwise have access to. They can also help women shift their thinking and consider alternate career paths, positions, projects, and opportunities. Executive sponsors can play a big role in increasing the pipeline of women for leadership roles.

Give Potential a Chance

Men usually get picked for opportunities based on their potential, whereas women tend to be evaluated on their prior experience. Women in positions of influence should endeavour to delegate or suggest promising female staff for projects where they feel they may be a great fit, irrespective of their experience. Women should lift each other up and give each other the chance to prove themselves.

Amplify Each Other

Women should break the stereotyped notion of ‘female rivalry’ and amplify each other’s voices in meetings, back each other when they agree with their views, respectfully disagree, and give one another space to speak openly. Lack of recognition remains one of the top reasons why people leave an organisation. Hence, whenever the opportunity arises, celebrate the strengths and accomplishments of female peers.

Discuss the Taboo Subject of ‘Pay’

Pay gap is a burning issue in gender inequality and the reason it remains grossly unresolved is because most companies aren’t transparent about pay structures and consider discussing it inappropriate. Equal pay for equal work is still an unrealised vision and many women don’t feel confident negotiating pay checks. Speaking openly about pay and sharing successful salary negotiation tips with each other, can empower other women to stand up for what they believe they deserve.

Normalise Parenting

There is a widely prevalent and misplaced notion that working moms are less committed to their work which makes women uncomfortable to discuss their family with work colleagues and managers for the fear of being perceived as undedicated. If we want more women to join the workforce and empower them to reach senior roles, we must normalise parenting and work-life balance. The more senior female leaders are open about their own parental responsibilities and talk about it freely in the workplace, the more it becomes the norm. There are moments where we all have to respond to family needs, and if we see leaders doing that, it makes it easier for everyone to do that and help shatter the assumption that you have to choose between your career and family to get ahead.

Champion the Cause

Last but not the least, get involved in the diversity and inclusion initiatives at your workplace. Don’t wait for your employer to start a diversity cell. If none exist, take the lead, and get your voices heard. Only when we all put our collective will behind a cause, proactively drive changes, and #chosetochallenge gender stereotypes, can real progress happen.

Ann-Kathrin Sauthoff-BlochAbout the author

Ann-Kathrin champions Infosys Consulting’s growth strategy across Europe. She has an impressive career history, having spent 14 years at Accenture, before moving to IBM in 2013, where she was the global lead account partner for Deutsche Telekom, one of IBM’s largest accounts in Germany, leading over 250 consultants onsite and offshore.


women in tech, soft skills featured

Making our voices heard: Empowering women within tech

By Shannon Kreps, vice president product marketing at Medius

women in tech, soft skillsIn 1995, I graduated from university and packed my bags to move to Silicon Valley – this was at a time when the ‘dot-com explosion’ was well underway.

My first position was as a buyer in the purchasing department at Oracle and I was happy to get a job working for a tech company. At the time I had no idea that this would inform the rest of my career as well as accelerating my passion for encouraging young women into the world of tech.

Carving out my career

The start of my career journey primarily focused on the back-office procurement function before moving to the education department to train users, managers and technical people around the globe on procurement solutions. I then spent time in product development as a product manager, working with developers to create new functionality at a point when procurement as a function and technology was taking off around me. As time went on, I became very interested in the underlying data that drives decision making. My experience as a sales engineer, which involved doing technical demonstrations of products, gave me the training and opportunity to get down and dirty with the mechanics of how data was stored and accessed as well as how it is tied into real world situations.

Interestingly, I never considered myself ‘technical’ until I found myself discussing terms such as GUI, SQL and how to navigate through applications on a regular basis.

Gender challenges experienced

Throughout the past decade I have often found that I’m the only woman in a leadership position in the room (though I do commend my current boss for having a team with high female representation). At first it was a struggle to get my voice heard as I’d often wait until others had spoken or let others speak over me. Now, I jump right in with my ideas. I still experience self-doubt, but I’ve learnt to just get on with it.

In my experience, the tech industry is changing as there is more of a conscious decision to look for diversity when hiring – even though it’s still hard to get through the process as it’s still very much ‘a who you know’ kind of world. However, there are more women in leadership roles, and I’ve seen the impact in design sessions when women have a voice and talk about real life and not just where a button is placed. These discussions show how more diverse people and opinions makes products better for customers.

Making our voices heard

The future of women within tech is exciting as WE are here and making our voices heard. Not only are we more willing to stand up if we don’t think something’s right but we are also more willing to leave a workplace if we don’t see change. The fact that we have more opportunities available to us is something that previously just didn’t exist, but unfortunately, there are still some things that are the same. For example, I’ve often had to leave an organisation to move up career-wise as I’ve been passed over for promotions while I’ve seen my male colleagues get better titles and salaries time and time again.

I’m a founding member of Data Scientista Society. We are a non-profit group of women with diverse careers in data and analytics, and we strive to support each other as we advance in our careers. We meet monthly and either engage in project-based work, where women work in teams to lead tech topic sessions or we have “book club” focused on women in data. These are books that often talk about the hidden biases against women (and diverse groups) and share the benefits of a widened perspective.

Empowering women in tech

TechGirlz is a non-profit organisation that inspires middle school girls (ages10-14) to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers. I first heard about the organisation at a Women in Tech Summit I attended. At the conference one of the speakers said many women don’t think of themselves as ‘a women in tech’ but if you are working at a tech company and you’re the receptionist, you are a woman in tech, if you are in back-office operations you are still a women in tech, as well as all the other jobs that focus on technology like developers and coders – we are all contributing to create successful technology. It was inspiring because as women we often tend to sell ourselves short.

TechGirlz offers free one day workshops throughout the year to introduce girls to technology and concepts that might not get exposed to on a regular school day. The idea is to let them know that there is a big world is out there - I’ve led workshops on subjects like podcasting, infographics and design thinking and assisted in coding workshops. It’s amazing to see girls open up in a setting where they are all encouraged to speak up and share.

Tech needs you!

For woman looking to forge a career in the tech industry, my advice is just DO IT! Tech needs you – and there are so many places to go. I also believe you don’t have to think of yourself as a technical person to be a woman in tech. Tech needs people who know how to communicate, that can breakdown complex technical concepts and turn them into business speak. Of course, we need coders and developers too so go where your passion and talent takes you.

Shannon KrepsAbout the author

Shannon is the vice president of product marketing at Medius, a global provider of spend management solutions. Shannon started her career as a buyer for Oracle and after 13 years at the Californian-tech company, she added Insight Software, Grant Thornton, and Rizing to her impressive resume. Outside of work Shannon volunteers for TechGirlz, an organisation designed to inspire middle school girls to be future technology leaders.

 


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