Five Things I've Learned as a Woman in Tech

Amber Fallon

December 11, 2017

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By Amber Fallon, Sales Engineer at SmartBear Software

1. Empathy is a valuable skill

There's a prevalent misconception that women can be too emotional for technical fields. Whether or not there's any truth to that myth, emotion and empathy go hand-in-hand, and empathy is a great quality for someone working in tech. The ability to step away from cold, hard, analytical data and relate to customers and the way they're using technology can be an enormous asset to corporations seeking to improve or continue their customer engagement. With few exceptions, technology is used by people, and people have feelings about it, and the way it works and fits into their lives. Therefore, being able to empathize with the users of your technology can help build smarter, more user driven products. That's a win for everyone!

2. You have to work harder

I and every woman I have spoken to in a technical role can share dozens (or more!) stories about not being taken seriously at some point in their career, about having colleagues or customers insist on speaking with a male coworker (even when that colleague is less experienced or knowledgeable), about being passed over for promotions, about struggling for recognition for things that seem to be noticed more easily when coming from their male counterparts, and too many more to list. Despite the modern world we live in, sexism does exist, and it isn't always overt. There's a lot of passive, ingrained, casual sexism out there as well, and that can be harder to change or even to recognize.

3. Support systems are out there

Don't let what I said above get you down. More than ever before, there are places to turn for help, for support, or just for camaraderie. More workplaces are sponsoring groups like WITI for women to come together and bond over their interest or employment in technical fields. There are online groups as well, in case there aren't any near you. Or, you could start your own just like SmartBear's Christina Lowe did. Being able to share your experiences, learning from a group of people dealing with the same challenges you're facing, and knowing you're surrounded by people who want to improve the IT industry for everyone is a great leap forward.

4. Things are getting better

Progress might be slow, but it IS happening. Things are improving which is due in no small part to the efforts of groups like the ones I mentioned above. The number of women who have come into tech fields, stayed, and improved the awareness and equality situation have done a great service for the next generation. We can only hope we will continue the trend of working toward equality, empowerment, and success for everyone across the board.

5. We still have a long way to go

There is so much more work to do in the area of bridging the gender gap and creating a more level playing field for everyone. We can't do it alone. We need more women choosing to study STEM fields in school, taking jobs in technical roles, and spreading awareness throughout the community. Making careers in tech welcoming to EVERYONE, regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, or body size is a truly admirable goal.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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