In the article The 3 Leadership Challenges You Control, I talk about the power of speaking up; finding your voice as women in tech.
In an industry where women in tech are so clearly outnumbered, finding and having a voice is critical to changing the dynamic to a more thought diverse direction in the future.
I was recently asked what leaders in business can do to encourage and support women in tech finding and using their voice for the benefit of the company and their careers.
A few things come to mind:
- Promote women in IT
- Give them the opportunity to showcase their skillsets and
- Give them the opportunity and ability to lead
- Proactively build teams with diverse backgrounds and perspectives
- Empower leaders to emerge
A woman told me long ago; when you are looking at a new team or a new company, look to see how many people in the leadership organizational chart look different than the top leader. If you can, align yourself to strong leaders that encourage and empower a diversity team.
While looking to leaders to help women move to the forefront of technology, we also must take responsibility for our own voice.
My motto in life is ‘Take risks;’ you don’t have a voice if you don’t. You have to venture outside your boundaries. That’s what life’s all about. Kelly Wearstler
I learned early on that I needed to know the technology inside and out. Not as good as my male counterparts but often better to be taken seriously at the conference table.
In fact, I graduated with a communication systems management degree which was essentially a computer science degree with a focus on telecom in the early nineties. I took my first job designing LANs/WANs for a “big six” consulting firm. I quickly realized that I needed more in-depth technical knowledge so, after almost four years, I took a job with a computer training company that taught EE at the major telcos how to become Computer Engineers.
I did this for two reasons:
- I wanted to deeply understand all the components of the OSI model
- I wanted to get comfortable public speaking
I did both and after I mastered Token Ring, ATMs, LAN Design and IP Addressing, I left for the next endeavor. The story goes on with many twists and turns but at each milestone, I was sure to do three things well:
- Understand the technology at-hand so I could effectively contribute,
- Build effective relationships that created win-win situations that often led to my next position,
- Leverage my voice to make an impact and contribution to the company goals.
Looking back I cannot say there is one secret, it really is more about a desire to be an impact player and working to make an impact with each project and position.
Every team needs effective people and if you work hard, contribute often and ask for the steps to get promoted people, seem to make that path a reality. If it does NOT, I have been very comfortable parting-ways for opportunities and positions that provided an opportunity for me to make the impact I was prepared to deliver.
I find change is good and being committed at a level that works for you and your career goals is an individual choice. The power is in your hands. The voice is your. Speak up.