The tech industry at first glance may seem to offer a fair playing field for both male and female workers. For the first time ever, we’re actually seeing more female personalities in the tech industry rising to the top, setting an example and serving as an inspiration to all of us.
To name a few, joining the crowd of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook co-founder and CEO) and Bill Gates (Microsoft’s CEO and founder) are Chloe Sladden (vice president for media at Twitter), Heidi Williams (as director of platform engineering for Box), and Rachel Sklar (co-founder of TheLi.st digital media company). But, when you look at the statistics, you’ll see multiple evidences that the industry is indeed male-dominated. The 2011 Venture Census of the NVCA revealed that most of the startup tech companies in Silicon Valley alone are composed of board members who are venture capitalists (but, 89% of these board members are men).
To succeed in the industry, women are even forced to adopt the alpha-male traits and masculine behaviours (in terms of clothing, speaking, and thinking) just to be able to get recognized and respected. While these scenarios create some gender disparity in the workplace environment, we believe that we can combat this trend by being persistent with our work, embracing the imbalanced ratio, and unleashing our unique voices. For this entry, we’ll show you five tips on overcoming this kind of gender bias.
In a similar post published by Wired, author and women’s rights advocate Widen Deanna Ballew reiterated that as a universal rule, people who wish to become successful in any working environment must seek and earn the respect of group members. Working in the tech industry is not an exception to this rule.
The first step in earning this respect is not by dressing up like a sophisticated female fashionista, but by showing that you are capable of delivering an incredible work. Be persistent with your decisions and be a team player. When you deliver your responsibilities, do it not only for yourself, but for the benefit of the entire team. Once they’ve seen you as a valuable asset to the company, promotion is definitely on its way.
Be true To Yourself
Women are forced to adopt alternative appearances and behaviours in pursuit of being successful in the tech industry, according to the 2013 survey conducted by Telefonica’s O2 published in the HR Magazine. This certain change in behaviour involves imitating manly alpha-like gestures and characteristics to be noticed, respected, and taken seriously in the work environment. O2 also noted on the study that among British female workers, 23% of them are dressing in a more masculine way while 50% are hiding their emotions and sentiments instead of speaking them out in the workspace.
However, “nothing is easier to smell than inauthenticy,” Ballew of Wired pointed out. Just because you belong to the minority in the tech industry, it doesn’t mean that you need to pretend and change yourself to prove something. Your ultimate key to compete with your male peers is to show your strengths, skills, and ability.
Seek Out Female Colleagues For Free Mentorships
If you feel like you are outnumbered by your female peers and you’ve got no one to share your success stories and frustrations, you better start seeking out assistance from female colleagues and potential mentors. If you share the same enthusiasm, you can even start a support group, especially since women like to help each other. In a related story published by Cybercoders.com, author Ritika Trikha interviewed president of Smarter Searches Courtney Herda, and asked for a piece of advice. Herda told Trikha that “the women who are in tech need to support other women… it can feel isolating to be one of the few women working in a Boys Club.”
Embrace the Imbalanced Male: Female Ratio
Embracing the imbalance ratio by accepting the reality can actually work in your favour. It would be easier for you to stand out at events as an empowered woman, not fearing competition and discrimination. Since the members of the men’s club are hypercompetitive, they tend to threaten and scheme with each other in order to rise to top. As a woman, you will not get to experience this work-related scenario since “men don’t really see you as a big threat compared to their male colleagues,” wrote Elizabeth Nguyen, product manager of CyberCoders.
These are some of the ways on how you can overcome gender bias against women, in case you are working in a tech firm. Remember, when it comes to the workforce, gender roles should not be the basis for success. Your dedication, efficiency, and determination are your ultimate ticket to success in this endeavour.
Images courtesy of : US Mission Geneva and GGD Greece via flickr licensed under creative commons.