If you’ve arrived here, hopefully, you’ve had a chance to check out the first two articles in our Women in Tech Series. The first article discusses the current state of women in tech, and the second article explores what we can do to retain more women in tech.
But the journey doesn’t stop there. We want every single woman who desires to advance her career in tech to have the support, encouragement, and environment to do so.
While the labor market is fluctuating in 2023, there is still an incredible demand for tech talent. Over the last three decades, computing roles in the U.S. have grown 10 times faster than the average growth of all job roles. And according to an (ISC)2 workforce study from 2022, there is demand for more than 3.4 million cybersecurity professionals worldwide.
The need is there. The roles are available. But the pipeline for women is thin. We need women, men, and organizations to step up and make the world of tech a place where women can advance.
What current leaders in tech can do
As leaders in tech, we don’t have all the answers. We should always be looking for opportunities to learn, gain new perspectives, and be challenged. Change won’t happen unless we come from a place of curiosity and openness to doing things differently.
Our friends over at financial services leader BMO have done the work of advocating for advancing diversity and cultivating talent across their organization. “In order to have real impact on women in the field of technology, we must be willing to take hard introspective looks at where our current environments are falling short and be intentional about closing the gaps,” said BMO Wealth Management’s National Head of Customer and Employee Strategy, Leslie Anderson. “Those gaps allow amazing talent to slip through the cracks, ultimately robbing us of all of the innovation and advancements that could come to pass when we have strong, diverse voices around the table in a position to make an impact.”
Evaluate hiring practices
It starts with a willingness to evaluate and adjust hiring practices. Instead of pulling from the same talent sources and pools, think outside the box. Tap into diverse and non-traditional talent pools—which often include women.
From there, assess how you evaluate talent. For instance, are you screening out those with gaps in their resume? Are interview teams entirely made up of men? Is there unconscious bias about candidate names or appearances?
“It’s important that hiring managers review the company’s job postings to identify requirements that might exclude women entering into tech from other disciplines,” said Leslie. “It’s also critical to create diverse interview panels to lessen the impact of bias in the selection process.”
Inspire and empower others
Remember, change doesn’t happen unless trailblazers pave the way. And you have a chance to be that change you want to see. If you’ve had the opportunity to advance in tech, there is so much you can do to influence and impact those who come after you.
Put your money where your heart is and align your wealth with your passion. Give to organizations that advance women, sponsor programs that empower women, or launch your own initiatives.
Don’t let a moment go by where you should have spoken up or should have brought a concern to light. Embrace the “see it, say it” moments, and don’t shy away from tough conversations. Change isn’t easy. It requires the courage to speak up and stand up for those who struggle to be heard.
Additionally, rise up women through mentorship. Never underestimate the power of mentorship—whether it’s formal, informal, peer-to-peer, or reverse mentorship. Mentorship has the power to impact your life in so many ways and is a transformative journey for both parties.
“Consider creating sponsorship programs that support women,” Leslie suggests. “Employer-led sponsorship programs help women make the transition into tech and support their development and leadership within the organization.”
Finally, help amplify others inside and outside of your organization who do the work of elevating women in tech. Share their stories on social media, engage with them in person, connect them with others, and celebrate their accomplishments.
“Promote positive role models by externally highlighting the success of women you currently have in technology,” Leslie adds. “You want new entrants into the field, along with seasoned professionals, to see the culture at your company.”
We are thankful that so many people share the story of ARA, invite us to speak about it, and show their support. If others hadn’t taken it upon themselves to help advance our mission, our impact would be significantly less.
What future women leaders in tech can do
I want to speak now to those women who aspire to advance within tech. There are so many women who have your back and want to see you succeed, but you must also advocate for yourself.
Your voice, your ideas, and your aspirations matter. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Know your value, and don’t settle for anything less.
Be curious and seek to understand. Take advantage of every opportunity to grow and learn.
Don’t be afraid of vulnerability. It’s okay to admit you need help and don’t have all of the answers. Even those at the executive level need help sometimes.
Identify trusted and safe mentors you can turn to and confide in. Consider forming your own personal board of directors who offer radical candor and honest feedback. Join organizations that offer you a tribe of peers navigating the same thing.
Most importantly, don’t give up! You will encounter obstacles, you will make mistakes, and people will try to extinguish your light.
In a recent podcast interview with Andy Moss, I shared a story from my early days in IT staffing. I was kicked out of a male client’s office simply for admitting I didn’t know what a particular acronym meant. It was humiliating, and I felt like a failure. I could have easily decided this industry wasn’t for me, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Don’t let life’s setbacks set you back; let them push you forward.
Women in Tech Series Conclusion
During ARA’s 10th anniversary celebration, i.c.stars CEO and Co-Founder Sandee Kastrul reminded us all that the next generation is watching. It’s up to us to model the behavior and the change we want to see in the future. If we truly want to attract, retain, and advance women in tech, change needs to start with us.
Opportunity exists for all; it shouldn’t be viewed as a scarce resource we’re fighting over. We must come from a place of abundance, stop diminishing others’ successes, and celebrate every victory, no matter how big or small. Our purpose and our mission is best served when we walk together.
An Accenture study found that if there was widespread cultural change and increased inclusivity within colleges/universities and workplaces, we could see up to 3 million young women working in tech by 2030. That’s 1.3 million more women than if we do nothing. Let’s do something together!
Support organizations like these that are working to elevate women and close the diversity gap in tech:
- Ada Developers Academy
- Black Girls Code
- Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE)
- Change Catalyst (now Empovia)
- ChicagoTech Academy
- Girl Develop It
- Girls in Tech
- Girls Who Code
- League of Women Coders
- National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)
- Women in STEM
- Women in Tech (WIT)
- Women in Tech Council (WTC)
- Women in Technology International (WITI)
- Women Who Code