How can women in IT progress their careers?
It may be a male dominated sector but there are plenty of opportunities out there for women to achieve the three Ps – progression, promotion and a pay rise.
With the gender pay gap and men outnumbering women in IT 4:1, it’s all too easy to think that there is little hope for women who want to succeed in the technology sector. However despite the somewhat gloomy facts and figures, technology is a great place for women to work and there are plenty of opportunities out there. So what should women do to progress their careers? When it comes to career progression, promotions and pay rises the obvious rules still apply - work hard, meet deadlines and ultimately do your job well. But that’s just the beginning. Progressing your career can be a challenge, especially for women in a male dominated sector. Here are a few ways that women in IT can work towards taking that next step on the career ladder.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good network. With social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and particularly LinkedIn, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with old contacts, friends and colleagues. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile then set one up – it’s a great tool to showcase your abilities and experience for the business world to see. You never know who may have a great opportunity for you. Also, remember that your network doesn’t just consist of the people you know but friends of friends, and their friends too – think of the ‘seven degrees of separation’ experiment. The more people you connect with the more doors you could open. Face to face networking events are also really useful ways of meeting new people, getting advice from those who may have been in your position and expanding your network.
Something that men tend to do more than women is move jobs. And although it’s one of many factors, this is one reason why men often get more promotions and pay rises; they go after the opportunities. We find that women often underestimate their abilities - whereas most men will put themselves forward for a position if they tick 60 per cent of the boxes, most women will only do so if they tick 100 per cent. Don’t be afraid to move jobs if the time is right or a good opportunity comes along, and remember that a job specification is just a wish list - aim high.
Get a mentor
Getting regular advice and guidance from a mentor that you trust and respect is a fantastic way to progress your career. Someone more senior than you will have once been in your shoes and be able to offer words of wisdom that may prove very helpful.
Again, generally, women aren’t as good as men when it comes to selling themselves and shouting about their achievements; but this is crucial if you want to be in the running for that promotion. Chair of the BCS Women's Strategic Panel Rebecca George sums it up with this quote:
“There are three ways in which women act differently from men in the workplace. The first one is in job interviews where, generically, we don’t say we can do the job. The second one is in appraisals where, generically - because there are always exceptions to the rule, we only hear the bad news. And the third thing is when we’re working on a job we think that by putting our head down and doing a really good job, people will recognise us, say thank you and promote us. But it doesn’t work like that, mainly because men generally spend (without even knowing they’re doing it) up to 10 per cent of their time, so about half a day a week, selling themselves.”
Make sure you share your successes and believe in yourself - it really is half the battle.
Make the right choices
It may sound obvious but think carefully about your career choices. Make sure you’re working at a company where you’re happy. If you want to take a particular career path, choose an employer where that progression is possible, and supported.
Technology is a great and exciting industry to work in, with so many options and opportunities. You don’t have to act like a man to succeed in a male dominated industry, but confidence, self belief and not only doing a good job but being seen to be doing a good job is key to career progression. We need more women in senior IT positions and more female role models – take these points on board and that could be you!