March 31, 2023
By Sami Jenkins
As of 2023, women hold 26.7% of technology jobs, with representation falling by 2.1% with women in Big Tech. The numbers also considerably decrease as we look at upper management roles (CEO, CISO, CTO or head of engineering). There has always been a gender gap in employment in the IT industry which could be discouraging for future talent.
One of the main reasons for this gender gap in tech careers is an overall lack of interest. Gender stereotypes have played a part in shaping the mindset of the youth, branding specific interests as “feminine” or “ladylike,” while the hard skills associated with IT are viewed as “masculine.”
Why Women in Tech Matter
First, there is a huge shortage of technical talent. We need more people to choose the tech industry, and there are lots of women who have not even considered it.
When it comes to devices or software applications, the users are generally both men and women. This means you must cater to both genders to optimize your product. A unique perspective of a trendy youth, mother or career changer can help shape your product’s outcome, creating it with that target group in mind. This is a unique perspective that employers will value as it incorporates the inclusion of every user.
Creating a company culture where people can be themselves encourages multiple perspectives and unique propositions. This is critical to innovation and is imperative to overall success — ensuring equal opportunities for everyone across the board.
Challenges Entering a Male-Dominated Industry
As a woman in tech, there can be many barriers to positioning yourself as an IT expert. The lack of female leaders and mentors can dissuade future applicants, making it harder for women to envision themselves in specific roles.
Workplace culture also has a huge role to play. In 2022, women were seen to leave the IT industry at a 45% higher rate than their male counterparts. The IT industry doesn’t just need more women but people in general. It is a rapidly growing industry with a high demand for qualified talent. This provides an avenue for employers to build diverse teams to cultivate their buildings further.
Honing Your Skills
IT is a unique industry in the sense that some of the greatest minds in innovation did not follow a traditional academic path of obtaining a university degree. With hard work, dedication, and a focus on developing your skills and experience, you, too, can become an IT expert.
Be Curious: When looking for naturally gifted I.T. professionals, one thing the best have in common, regardless of sex, is they are all very curios. If you want to be super successful as a tech, focus on the how rather than the why. If you want to be a successful business owner, you need to focus on both.
Develop Your Skill Set: Research different career paths to determine the requirements and skills you need to begin the journey. You can acquire these skills through online courses, certifications, and hands-on projects.
Acquire Experience: Practical experience through an internship or part-time job is crucial for building your IT career. It might not be the start you hoped for, but it can help jumpstart your career and teach you some well-needed skills from experts in the industry. You can also get much-needed experience by volunteering, participating in open-source projects, or freelancing to stand out from other applicants with similar skills or certifications.
Network with IT Professionals: Networking can help bring forward great opportunities you might have yet to be privy to from traditional channels. Attend industry events, participate in online forums- don’t be afraid to find mentors and other experts in the field. You may face challenges and rejections, but you’ll find your place in the tech world with perseverance and determination.
Understand Soft Skills: If you want to be a leader, and you don’t work well with others, you are fighting a losing battle, most successful IT leaders will have a combination of strong technical and soft skills. However, it is important to understand your strengths and weaknesses and choose a technology career that fits with you.
Just Do It, and Do It Well
As a society, we need to better encourage women to enter IT and similar fields. However, individuals need to step up to the plate and be the kind of person who excels in the tech industry despite their gender.
At the end of the day, don’t be a great “woman leader” but a great leader. To be successful at tech, do tech, and do it as good as anyone else. By positing yourself as a woman in tech, you define yourself in a different league. Most employers and buyers, just want good service and do not care about whether you are a man or a woman.
Sami Jenkins is the COO and co-founder of ThreatLocker, a global cybersecurity firm providing Zero Trust endpoint security. With almost two decades of experience as an IT professional, Jenkins specializes in enhancing cybersecurity measures for businesses. Her role at ThreatLocker has resulted in its rapid expansion by tripling its workforce in a year, driving profitable revenue growth by 300% in the past year and providing overall strategic direction. She is passionate about cybersecurity and aspires to protect all businesses from ransomware and other cyberattacks through the implementation of a Zero Trust architecture.
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