If you are a woman even slightly interested in working in tech, you’ve surely heard the stories. The programming “brohood.” The look over the shoulders. The sexual harassment. The “what-can-you-expect-from-a-woman” sighs. I know I did a couple of years back when I decided to take my interest in coding to the next level.
So, it’s understandable if you’re giving your idea to work in tech a second thought. I’m not going to lie to you, you’ll likely run into uncomfortable situations at one point or the other. We are, after all, in a transitioning phase, where women everywhere are pushing for the same opportunities – and tech companies are starting to understand the need for gender diversity.
But I don’t think it’s fair if you don’t see the whole picture. Being a woman in a startup (or a large enterprise, for that matter) can be challenging, stressful, and frustrating. But it can also be a fantastic, enriching, and highly-satisfying job. I found about all that when I started working for BairesDev, a company that outsources IT services that threw me right into the thick of programming. Here’s what surprised me – in a good way.
There Are Fantastic Female Mentors
You know the image you get in your head when you imagine a tech startup? You know the one, the image in which there a ton of dudes lazily swiveling in their chairs, being sarcastic to one another, talking in their own code? Well, it’s horribly misguided. That’s what I pictured my software development team would be like, but I got a great surprise once I started working.
Not only were there other female developers in the team, but there was also a female team leader. What’s more – the company’s Chief R&D Officer is a woman! While that might not seem like much (compared to how many men were there), it was quite empowering. Some of them are senior developers that have been working in the field for many years and have seen a lot.
Working beside them is enlightening not just because of their technical expertise, but also because they’re badass women that had to face harsher challenges when they got in the game in the first place. As such, they understand what it means to be a woman in tech, so they were always willing to help me and make me feel comfortable from the get-go.
From what I’ve talked with other colleagues in seminars and events, it’s not that I was lucky. The tech sector has many experienced women in senior and leadership positions.
There Are Highly Supportive Communities
It’s not just a matter of where you work. Today, limiting yourself to what happens in your office is clipping your wings. Trust me, I know it first-hand. When I started working as a junior software engineer, I just talked to the people in my office and participated in online communities about IT outsourcing, remote work, and app design.
It wasn’t until one of my female colleagues said to me, matter-of-factly “why don’t you join some female Facebook or LinkedIn groups?” It made sense. Online platforms are perfect to connect with people from around the world with the same interests as you and me. That’s why I started doing some digging and found out that there are lots of groups and forums out there waiting for women like us.
GirlKnowsTech compiled a nice list for you to start doing your own research – but don’t stop there. The Internet is vast, so there are plenty of other resources for you to snoop around. Be sure to check your favorite social media platforms because it’s highly likely you’ll find a female community waiting for you to share ideas, provide feedback, answer questions, or help you with anything you need.
Consider that your first steps. If you’re willing to go all the way, then you can attend female-focused events in your area or even go to more general ones to hear what experienced women in tech have to share. Often times, they are the most interesting people in the panels!
You’ll Grow in Incredible Ways
Being a woman in the tech industry will fundamentally change you. For me, it mainly has to do with being part of a world that’s transforming society as we know it. Working with cutting edge solutions to tackle people’s needs is amazing and very challenging. In tech, there’s never a dull day, as you’ll always find yourself in front of a new mountain to climb.
That will get your creative juices flowing, get you outside of your comfort zone, and consider multiple perspectives that will let you see the world with a different set of eyes. I know it might seem exaggerated, but to me, that’s the truth. Every day I work on a daring project that compels me to be better, more educated, more creative – and I love it!
And since the tech industry is going through that transitioning phase I mentioned before, being a woman in the field right now means you’re an active part of the conversation. You can contribute to change things from the inside and grow up to inspire other women to do the same. A friend of my sister decided she was going to get programming lessons after hearing me talk about it.
Seeing her so into it, asking me questions, and sharing her thoughts is probably the most rewarding thing I could possibly ask for outside work – because we really need more women in tech bringing their own perspective.
Some Final Words
I re-read what I’ve written before getting into these final words because I wanted to give the article the proper closure. As I was reading, it was evident that most of these things came out of the passion I have for working in such an amazing industry.
Besides, I know that all women in tech are working towards the same goal – to finally change that narrative and create an industry that’s equal for everyone, not just women. As far as challenges go, that’s a fantastic objective to pursue and I’m extremely happy to be a part of the people pursuing it.
That’s why I encourage you to follow your tech job dream. Because we need more women in tech. Because we need you in tech. Because only people like you who are reading this can help change this field for the better.