Women in tech: Having the confidence that you are the best person for the job

I’ve been working in tech companies for over 16 years now, and I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by other likeminded women in marketing.

Being a female marketer in this particular space is fairly normalised and I’m proud to have experienced many global growth journeys before joining the Summize team.

That being said, as a female marketeer in tech I sometimes feel as if I often have to wear two hats. On the one hand, I’m pleased women are coming through into marketing and comms roles. It’s not uncommon to see female marketing leaders in UK tech companies in similar positions, so I feel we’re relatively well placed as a function to play a part in the success of businesses in a saturated, male-dominated industry. On the other, although I feel empowered in my role and department, why is the tech industry still so imbalanced? We should all be questioning why women are filling the more ‘gendered’ roles in tech, like marketing or HR, and not some of the other roles such as engineering or sales.

I am part of a marketing team which is 75% female, and we are driving forward huge growth in the tech space, which I’m proud of, but I remind myself daily that the gender gap in tech is still huge. It’s the age-old binary, that more creative industries and perceived ‘softer functions’ of a business are for women, and the technical roles are for the men…

It’s a vicious cycle. Younger women starting out in their careers perceive that the tech industry is male dominated and are therefore not always likely to apply for that very reason. In particular, I have seen first-hand the difficulties of striking a gender balance in development and sales roles within the tech industry. That is where the cycle begins, because younger women are deterred from starting careers in tech, it’s no surprise that senior leadership teams are then often overwhelmingly made up of men. We need to break that chain by empowering more younger women to be bold, brave and take that step no matter what the stereotypes say.

A crucial piece of advice I’d give to any woman in tech, whether that’s somebody starting out in a junior position or maybe someone making a career change, is having the self confidence that you are the best person for that job. Don’t let the insecurity of being a woman in the industry affect your self-perception, and start from a place of positive intent with the employer rather than assuming there may be a natural bias. Imposter syndrome is a huge issue amongst women in tech and I’ve encountered it throughout my career.

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The reality is though, a self-fulfilling prophecy can only go so far when we don’t have leaders who really take the gender gap seriously. It is crucial for any senior leader to really question what their own thoughts are on the matter, and what they can do to better support the women in their organisation, without feeling awkward when the topic arises. A culture needs to be created where women feel confident voicing their concerns, where self-belief is not hindered, and where senior teams champion the benefits of a diverse team. The leaders in this industry need to do more in supporting and championing women, and then it will filter down.

Whilst the problem is real, it is important to note that the objective of hiring more women is not the simple answer. It’s bigger than this, part of a broader culture shift and not a box ticking exercise. Tech leaders need to think more laterally when it comes to hiring, too. For example, look for female maths or physics graduates who have early coding skills such as logic, problem solving and puzzle-making. Or female performing arts or psychology graduates who might not know they have the skills to work in sales, but could be awesome at communication and storytelling.

At Summize, we work on our approach to inclusion through things like a DEI committee, internal workshops around social issues and DEI subjects to create an open forum where people share their own experiences, thoughts and perspectives. We’ve had great feedback about this format, ensuring our team is centred around togetherness, respect and championing one another, regardless of who they are.

We’re all about continuous improvement and know that the road to true gender parity, in the tech industry is a journey not a destination. That perspective forms the basis of questions I’d like to ask to any senior leader in tech: what day-to-day changes can you put in place to make your business more gender inclusive? How can you create a space where women can thrive, whether that’s in a marketing, software, or sales role? Have you asked yourself the question of what you could do to attract more women, particularly in the departments with lower representation?

I’d like to see the next generation of the tech industry strike a much more representative and diverse gender balance, and to me, the best place to start is those everyday changes that may seem small but make all the difference. It’s about making it a natural part of the everyday conversation, not a quarterly agenda item. It’s about making those early connections for women who may not already know they have the core skills to thrive in the world of tech. This way, the solutions and tech ideas of tomorrow will be best designed to work for everyone.

Laura ProctorAbout the author

Experienced B2B marketer Laura Proctor joined Manchester tech start-up Summize in 2022 as VP of Marketing, having previously spearheaded the marketing strategy for a number of high-growth software companies including AppLearn, Apadmi and Avecto.

She now leads Summize’s marketing strategy and execution as the business moves from start-up to global scale-up with international recognition as one of the leading digital contracting businesses in the game.


Imposter syndrome, masks with happy or sad expressions.Bipolar disorder, fake faces and emotions.

Beating imposter syndrome: Tips and tricks from two women in tech

Imposter syndrome, masks with happy or sad expressions.Bipolar disorder, fake faces and emotions.

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.

As women in the workplace, imposter syndrome is something Sarah Murphy and Lisa Hampel from Clio are all too familiar with.

So, they thought it would be encouraging (and hopefully empowering) to share their stories with you.

Meet Sarah, Director of Marketing EMEA, Clio

Sarah Murphy, Clio

Before I joined Clio, I’d spent nine and a half years in the marketing world and in some pretty diverse roles.

I’d worked within Sky for six years but prior to joining Clio, spent the last three and a half years in various B2B start-ups. Working at Clio has given me the challenge that I was looking for, particularly in developing an EMEA team and launching an amazing product into new territories.

Imposter syndrome has certainly been a bit of block for me at times. I have found that, as both a mother and business professional, there is additional pressure because traditionally being a parent impacted a woman’s career, while men were often able to keep accelerating theirs. There’s still a lot of pressure to catch up in this context and that can force you to overcompensate.

We have moved on over the years to where women can continue to grow their careers alongside being parents, but there is an expectation that women will juggle everything and do it well!

This includes their career, home and social lives, which combined can contribute strongly to imposter syndrome.

That’s something I’m trying to counteract in my management style. To me, being the best leader and role model for your team means showing them the realities of your life instead of acting as if everything is perfect and never allowing the line between your personal and professional life to blur. If you need to finish work early to take your child to the doctor or go to a school play, that’s being a much better role model than working until 8pm and missing bedtime!

When companies provide assistance and leadership programmes that allow employees to express themselves with confidence, this can be massively beneficial to help employees overcome imposter syndrome. Clio has been fantastic in this regard and offers a number of programmes to help all employees succeed, including personalised development plans, mentorship programmes, one-to-one sessions with a career coach, regular discussion sessions on workplace challenges, leadership development programmes, and more.

My advice is to be clear about what you want to achieve and to put energy into building strong relationships, both within and outside of your company.

It is important to know what it is you want on your career journey and to discuss this with your manager regularly.

Building strong relationships helps you to build your own personal brand and it will help you to create visibility for your output, as well as yourself. You never know when an opportunity will arise but when it does don’t be afraid to jump into the unknown. Taking a chance on something new can be greatly rewarding and you don’t ever have to feel 100% ready for a step up.

Just go for it!

Meet Lisa, Senior Manager of Customer Success EMEA, Clio

Lisa Hampel

I’ve been at Clio for two and half years now but my career looked rather different some years ago.

I studied Psychology but I started my career working for an online games publisher and from there, I worked in a handful of tech companies before joining Clio. I joined Clio because I love working with agile and high-performing teams – challenging myself and finding new ways to grow motivates me.

Imposter syndrome definitely comes in waves for me, especially around the time of a big career opportunity. For a lot of my career, I didn’t feel like I really fit the image of what a “leader in tech” looks like.

Only after seeking out sponsors, mentors, and learning to be intentional in asking for help when I needed it, my pathway started to become a lot clearer.

From what I’ve seen, imposter syndrome affects anyone who dares to be introspective about their life. This is especially true if you don’t have a relatable example of where you want to go. The shining beacons of “success” in the workplace are still often cis-presenting, white and male – this does not seem very relatable to anyone who may not have these same attributes.

One thing that’s really helped me to navigate imposter syndrome is to challenge my own thinking. Often, the origins of imposter syndrome stem from the model we’ve created about our lives in our heads. Taking time to be introspective about what you can realistically achieve right now, as well as what you currently need and want, is immensely helpful. Learning to navigate this with kindness and patience is a study in itself but taking the doubts as an opportunity to question the status quo is not a bad thing and can help to drive real change.

Another thing that I find helpful is knowing that many people, including my own idols and colleagues, suffer from a version of imposter syndrome. At Clio, I feel fortunate to see leaders that are authentic and share examples of humanity. By encouraging staff to share stories and creating space for diversity of thought, there is a culture of acceptance and normality.

We are all human and will never know it all – accepting this is a big step.


female leader, women leading the way featured

Why not me?

Article by Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify

female leader, women leading the wayAs a young girl growing up in Newfoundland, I received the typical societal messages around gender differences and capabilities.

Luckily, I had a very strong foundation of equality at home to drown some of that noise out. My parents weren’t entrepreneurs - they had more traditional 9-5 jobs - but my mother was a strong woman. Both she and my father gave me the space to think differently about what my career could be and permission to ignore barriers and go for what I wanted.

Ask yourself the right questions

That said, I didn’t start my career as an entrepreneur – nor did I start out in tech. I spent five years working as a chartered accountant for a large corporation. And, despite being intrinsically driven to do my best work, I certainly suffered from imposter syndrome in the early days. I had his perpetual feeling that someone was going to realise that I didn’t know what I was doing; that I would be “found out.”

But then one day I had an epiphany that changed everything. After many experiences sitting in meetings with very senior people who boasted long careers and big titles, I found that I could very clearly see what was and wasn’t going to work out with their decisions. So, one morning I woke and rather than asking ‘Why Me?’, I said to myself: ‘Why not me?’

Any notion of imposter syndrome disappeared that day and it never returned.  And I never looked back, going on to successfully run four tech businesses, the most recent of which is Axonify.

Fifteen years ago, a tech leader asked me why I was the only local female tech CEO in Waterloo, Canada, where Axonify is based. I told him to just wait and give it time. Happily, I was right. And I was glad to do my part to enable more women to lead in tech and rise through the ranks.

My co-founder, Christine Tutssel, is also a woman and after almost 10 years in business we have 180 employees, half of whom are women. That’s not to say that I lean hard into supporting women over men—I always choose the best person for the job. And I strongly believe in trusting people to show up every day and do their best work, giving them the support they need and the space to try things without fear.

Fear is extremely paralysing, to people and businesses

My advice to any woman reading this is to stop fearing the things you don’t know.

Early in your career, you think everyone is smart and you’re afraid to speak up. Don’t fall into that trap. Be yourself. Work hard and ask lots of questions along the way.

Insatiable curiosity is one of the characteristics of any great leader. And don’t be fearful of making the wrong choices. There are no wrong choices, because even if you end up doing something you don’t love for a little while, the experience is meaningful because it showed you more clearly what you don’t want to do. It sets you on your right path. Lose the fear and the caring too much about what people think and you’ll free up so much mental energy that you can channel into doing amazing things.

There’s never been a better time for women to get into tech

The evidence is strong that women are changing tech for the better and providing great ROI to investors. There are so many jobs beyond traditional engineering now, and the industry could use more confident female role models.

Women everywhere just need to muzzle the fear, shed the imposter syndrome and ask themselves the same simple question that I asked myself one morning 15 years ago: Why not me?


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


WeAreTheCity and Huddle event | Imposter syndrome is normal and so are you

“Every person that comes out of every womb has imposter syndrome. It is normal and so are you,” said Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna, during a WeAreTheCity and Huddle event recently.

WeAreTheCity recently partnered with Huddle to hold an event entitled You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome. 100 ladies gathered at Huddle’s offices, in London, to overcome their own worries about feeling like a fake in the workplace.

During the event Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna, (pictured below) led an interactive workshop on how to overcome imposter syndrome.

Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna delivers her session on Imposter syndrome

She explained: “I was an actress in Los Angeles and I trained to become a psychotherapist and later became a coach to help businesses.

“I was sat in black wooly tights, Doc Martins and denim skirts and I sat with high up people during meetings and they’d lean over to me and say: ‘I’m frightened I’m going to get busted and found out.’ I was amazed that people so accomplished and earning so many zeros could feel that way.”

Gornick admitted that she still suffers from imposter syndrome herself: “After working with such companies and taking all those notes on the subject, I’m still suffering from it.

“I’ve read a lot and sat down and looked at my own imposter syndrome and I have experienced it through board members too, but I know the pain you feel and I know the talent I don’t own.”

She noted that many perfectionists are frightened of following through on plans, because they do not own their own talents: “Procrastination is down to perfection and architects live in crap houses because the one they designed in their head is a phenomenal.

“90% of success is showing up. Perfectionists forget to show up.”

Locus of Control

Gornick continued: “It was thought for a long time that only women suffered imposter syndrome, but men suffer it too. Locus of Control is where we feel Guest strike a power pose to overcome Imposter Syndrome

we have control over our lives and influence our own destiny.”

“Women have an external Locus of Control, which means if they want to apply for a role, internally in a company, and they think the role is great but they’ll get in early and leave late and will wait to be asked to apply. Whereas a man has an internal Locus of Control and will see the ad, will feel it’s not right for him but will apply anyway. Both places are terrifying if you’re not owning your talent.”

She stressed how it is important to own your talents and to know that when you succeed that it was not through good luck but through your own hard work: “Being in this world requires lots of courage and that means vulnerability. We think we achieve things with luck. Luck is what happened to Cinderella. Hard work leads to preparation and that leads to opportunity.”

“We don’t take our vitamins when we’re given praise. We deflect it instead of saying thank you and taking the vitamin.”

She finished her interactive workshop by saying: “Know that you’re normal. Stay present. Take your vitamins. Every person that comes out of every womb has imposter syndrome. It is normal and so are you.”

Panel of imposters

To finish the evening Huddle invited a panel of industry experts (pictured right) to share their own experiences of imposter syndrome.

On the panel Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director and CEO of WeAreTheCity, said: “I was in a job when I thought I was not worth my salary and that HR would come in one day and tell me that they had made a mistake.”

Ian Cooper, Head of Architecture at Huddle, said: “I have thought that other employees are better than me or have questioned why am I here. I reacted badly to this and overcompensated by coming across as too pushy and in your face.”

Vanesa Vallely, Managing Director of WeAreTheCity; Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna; Rosemary Cooper Clark, International Executive Coach and Management Consultant; Ian Cooper, Head of Architecture at Huddle discuss their own experiences of Imposter Syndrome

He advised: “Have a support system – someone that you know well enough and can say to them that you’re worried and you’re really not for this role. A support system can help silence those voices.”

Rosemary Cooper Clark, International Executive Coach and Management Consultant, said: “I was headhunted so I hadn’t been through an interview process for a while. I remember candidates talking about their degrees. I didn’t go to university until I was a mature student, so I used to wake up at 3am thinking they haven’t found me out yet.

“You should talk to yourself as if you would to your best friend. We talk terribly to ourselves sometimes.”

Vallely agreed and added: “I didn’t go to university so I feel out of my comfort zone when people are knowledgeable with a posh accent. But I know that is my problem not theirs.”

Gornick said: “After 32 years of coaching imposter syndrome and the only time I don’t suffer it is when I’m with the person I love. I am a trained actor so I know what to do with my body, to breath and to make eye contact. But I suffer it every day.”

“When you think or know that someone has imposter syndrome be open and warm to them.”

Vallely said: “Everyone has a persona that they’re trying to get across. When I think of imposter syndrome I think of someone that looks like a rabbit in the headlights, but they do not look like that because they are hiding it.

“If you never take praise or always say it wasn’t you then people will start to believe it. Just have a polka face and say thank you.”

 


WeAreTheCity and Huddle event | You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome | In Pictures

WeAreTheCity recently partnered with Huddle to hold an event entitled You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome.

Led by Executive and Board-level coach, Deena Gornick, and featuring a panel of business leaders, attendees learnt how to overcome Imposter Syndrome, how to increase confidence and better celebrate their successes. Guests left feeling empowered and able to properly take credit for and acknowledge their successes.

100 ladies gathered at Huddle's offices, in London, to overcome their own worries about feeling like a fake in the workplace.

To realise your full potential you not only need to have the skills, you need to be confident in them – to not only succeed, but to take ownership for this success. And yet, for the 70% of people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome this is much easier said than done.

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people,” John Steinbeck wrote in his diary in 1938. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said, "There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud."

Deena Gornick

Executive and Board-level coach Deena has over 20 years’ experience in coaching both men and women to help them with confidence, presence and communication. Deena will give a short introduction to the subject of the Impostor Syndrome, then she will run 3 sessions that have the aim of enabling attendees to stand by their achievements and to be able to articulate them to others clearly without feeling like a fraud.

You can find pictures from the  Imposter Syndrome event below.

 


25/05/2016: You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome

You are not an imposter event.png NEW
FULLY BOOKED: You are not an imposter: Getting ahead isn’t just about being the best, it’s about believing it.

To realise your full potential you not only need to have the skills, you need to be confident in them – to not only succeed, but to take ownership for this success. And yet, for the 70% of people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome this is much easier said than done.

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people,” John Steinbeck wrote in his diary in 1938. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said, "There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud."

On Wednesday the 25th of May in partnership with WeAreTheCityHuddle will host an interactive evening aimed at conquering Imposter Syndrome.

Lead by Executive and Board-level coach, Deena Gornick, and featuring a panel of business leaders, attendees will learn how to increase confidence and better celebrate their success. Guests will leave feeling empowered and able to properly take credit for and acknowledge their achievements.

Please join us for an evening of presentations, workshops, networking and refreshments. All are welcome at this free event, we encourage both men and women to join however space is limited so register early! THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED

When: Wednesday, 25th May, registration at 6:15pm

Where: Huddle Offices

2 Leman Street
2nd Floor Aldgate Tower
London, E1 8FA

Our Speaker:

Deena Gornick

Executive and Board-level coach Deena has over 20 years’ experience in coaching both men and women to help them with confidence, presence and communication. Deena will give a short introduction to the subject of the Imposter Syndrome, then she will run 3 sessions that have the aim of enabling attendees to stand by their achievements and to be able to articulate them to others clearly without feeling like a fraud.

Panel: 

To be confirmed, stay tuned for updates!

Agenda:

Registration & Refreshments from 6:15pm - 6:40pm

Start &Welcome: 6:40pm - 6:50pm

Deena Gornick Avoiding Imposter Syndrome: 6:50pm - 8:00pm

Panel Discussion: 8:00pm - 8:30pm

Close: 8:30pm - 8:35pm

Network & Refreshments: 8:35pm – 9:00pm

EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED

When: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 6:15 PM to 9:00 PM (BST) - Add to Calendar

Where: 2 Leman Street 2nd Floor Aldgate Tower, London E1 8FA, United Kingdom - View Map

**Huddle is the most trusted solution for secure collaboration and project management.