women in tech, soft skills featured

Three things women can do to get ahead in the world of tech

women in tech, soft skills

Article by Christa Quarles, CEO at Corel Corporation

One of the questions that I’m asked frequently is ‘why aren’t there more women in tech?’.

The lack of women in tech ultimately boils down to a lack of female representation in the sector. Barriers to entry have been holding women back since the start, whether its education or fighting against other people’s inherent biases. But if you’re interested in making a career for yourself in the world of tech, I believe there are a few things you can do to take you on this road to success.

Find a company culture that recognises that diversity and inclusion aren’t just nice to have, they’re fundamental to the bottom line.

Time and time again, it’s been proven that companies with diverse leadership drive higher profits and innovation. McKinsey have found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Moreover, they also found that companies with more than 30% women executives were 48% more likely to outperform companies with the least gender diversity.

But despite this hard data – and there’s much more of it out there if you look – many tech companies still lag behind when elevating women into leadership roles. So, when you’re considering a new role, look for signs that the organisation is committed to your growth and career path. Find out how many women they have in leadership or if they have initiatives in place to make this a reality. Because I would hazard a guess that if their leadership isn’t on board to make this obviously right decision, there’s likely a number of other bad decisions they’re making too.

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Mentorship and leading from the front

Despite being a CEO, I can speak to my experience as someone who is very often the youngest in the board room and know what it feels like to be a woman in a very male-dominated field. It’s critical that you find ways to keep your motivation to reach the positions you deserve. I’ve always been a big believer that you need to “see it to believe it.”

When it comes to seeing it, one of the most important things for me has been to build relationships with people and other women in the space. Making friends and mentorship are so crucial in enabling people to recognise their abilities and find a supportive community. Especially for women in an industry where they might sometimes feel that they are out of their element. Have women that you can have a cocktail with, turn to for advice, and share information with! It takes a group effort to enact change.

Finding these allies can help keep you and other women in the world of tech.  A rising tide lifts all boats as they say, and don’t forget that one of the ways you can empower women to leadership positions is by attaining one yourself.

Respect, ambition

When you see a CEO, is your first thought that he or she got there through false modesty and feigned restraint? Unlikely. Don’t be afraid to make sure that everyone knows the achievements that you earned. One of my first bosses once told me “manage your own P&L” (profit and loss document). Find an objective way to measure your performance, so you won’t need to rely as much on someone’s opinion. Have real data to declare your ability. With undeniable evidence of what you have achieved, it’s a lot easier to prove your worth as a business asset. And remember, you should never apologise for demanding what you deserve.

A 2021 study from Boston Consulting Group and Heidrick & Struggles proves that ambition is not the problem. Their recent survey showed that 62% of women respondents were actively trying for a promotion. If this sounds like you, then it may be time to brush up that P&L and ask for it.

For any woman looking to build her career in technology, I’d encourage you to look for companies that understand that diversity drives innovation and the bottom line. Seek out inspiration and wisdom from an incredible network of allies. And never forget how important it is to use the power of data to quantify your value.

Christa QuarlesAbout the author

Christa Quarles serves as Corel’s CEO and sits on the company’s Board of Directors. Joining Corel in 2020, Christa is a seasoned executive with over two decades of experience leading companies and spearheading financial and operational initiatives. Christa also currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Affirm and Kimberly-Clark.