Three small changes that could make a big difference for aspiring female tech leaders

Zone apprentice software developer Cheyenne Clark shares the knowledge she gained from a panel discussing Leadership for Women in Tech…

Has it happened to you too? The nagging self-doubt when you think about being a female leader? The feeling that no one will listen to you? Or the worry that you might build up tension around unconscious gender bias in the workplace?

We know those thoughts shouldn’t exist. But they do.

Women continue to be largely under-represented in decision-making in the tech world. The industry is still dominated by men in terms of numbers, and it’s proven that women face more barriers to promotion in tech. According to a 2021 report released by the Office of National Statistics, the number of women with a job in tech has increased from 16.8% in 2020 to 31% this year. But how many of those want to lead in the industry?

As a female apprentice in the tech industry, I have often felt like a small fish in the ocean — overwhelmed by the knowledge I have to gain and how rapidly the industry is evolving, while being surrounded by a lot of senior-level colleagues.

I recently attended a talk through meetup.com where a panel of female engineering leaders discussed the importance of Leadership for Women in Tech, and gave some really valuable tips and information that I considered beneficial to women aspiring to be leaders.

1. Learning to self-promote

There is a gender norm that women should be modest, causing many to feel discomfort when attempting to self-promote, often feeling they are boasting or bragging.

The assumption that just doing a good job is enough to increase your visibility to others is unfortunately not always true. But self-promotion will, and it’s a skill that can be self-taught.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Think about how to present your work — showcase it with honour and improve your presentation skills
  • Learn from others how they do it (those in leadership and those working towards it) — finding a mentor is a great way to explore this
  • Raise awareness of the modesty norm and support others
  • Remind yourself that self-promotion is not bragging!

The Google initiative #iamremarkable can help with learning self-promotion. They work on “empowering women and other underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond”. Check it out here.

2. Talent & growth

Talk to a variety of people about what you want to achieve. Have a vision and make a plan towards it. Ask yourself: what is driving you towards leadership?

Remember:

  • Do what you love and follow where that takes you
  • Enjoying what you do can increase your progress — this isn’t always 100% attainable, but ultimately if you love and care about what you’re doing, you’re more likely to perform better.
  • Be tangible with your achievements in order to facilitate promotions and opportunities
  • Have the right attitude and a growth mindset — be open to feedback and change, it helps you grow and evolve your skillset and become better at your craft.

If you are already a leader, you can help out our future leaders by:

  • Initiating Mentorship programmes
  • Inaugurating Sponsorship programmes
  • Tailoring multiple growth paths to individuals

3. Believe in yourself, and don’t let anybody tell you differently

If you want it, you can get it. It’s all about your unique journey, finding your own way to learn, challenging yourself. It’s a journey of self-discovery — remember, when you’re struggling, you can always ask for help too. Be bold, be passionate and showcase your work to increase your chance of a promotion and show that you deserve it. Note down your achievements, not only to prove to others that you can do all these things but to prove to yourself that you CAN do it!

It’s also OK to change your mind if it’s no longer the journey for you. Make a new plan with measurable outcomes (your manager is a good person to go to for this). There are people out there to help redirect you if you become unsure of your path.

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