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Retaining & Advancing Women in Tech

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Women in Tech: Be Visible

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be visible, women raising her handOne way to increase the number of women in tech is to be visible. If they don’t know you are there, if they don’t know your abilities, if they don’t know what you bring to the table; how can we expect them to pick you?

I just read an article today about the speculation of who will take over the reins at Uber. The title of the article?

Uber’s Search for a Female CEO has Been Narrowed Down to Three MEN. 

What? How is this possible? Well, it appears to be so. Although there are several very capable, in fact, some would say, more capable, women in tech who would be amazing in the role, it is rumored that in fact the new CEO will be a man.

So much for increasing the number of women leaders in the tech industry. Of course, a final decision hasn’t been made and perhaps the fact that there are several articles shining a spotlight on this issue are trending may have an impact on the final selection…but in the meantime, what can be done?

In a Harvard Business Review article, one suggestion is that women need to be visible. They need to make sure that those around them understand their expertise so they can be considered when a need arises. From the article that summarizes a study that was performed, we learn:

Each study validated the importance of visibility in assessing an employee’s performance and potential. In our observations, visibility is a complex interaction of perceived skills (particularly technical and leadership ones), access to stretch assignments, and being known — and liked — by influential senior leaders within informal networks. All three are necessary for advancement.

Visibility is broken down into three areas:

  • Be visible in valued skills
  • Be visible in assignments
  • Be visible in networks

Bonnie Marcus talks more about this in an interview with Jodie Nel, an event manager for Cyber Security Chicago, in her article How Women In Tech Gain Visibility.

She asks Nel about women in tech and now to be visible and she says:

I think pursuing technical certifications is really important. You want to make sure from the outset that you have the right experience. Get these qualifications and then you can make it known that you’re an expert in this area. Put the information in your email signature, your LinkedIn profile or your business card. So getting the technical certification is the first step. But then also talking about it as much as you can and making people aware of your area of expertise. Posting free knowledge sharing events is really helpful to become the go-to source within your organization and your industry. It comes in the form of meet-ups, podcasts, lunch-and-learns, etc. And then the final point on technical and leadership skills would be serving as a resource for committees and boards and councils. Again put yourself forward and say, “Look this is my technical area of expertise.” Always look for boards and councils looking for this help.

I have used a number of these tactics to build my personal brand and to become more visible in the STEM industry. However, you may not feel comfortable as a speaker or creating podcasts but the one thing you simply must do is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a powerful business tool that will help with your visibility. You can connect with others in your industry, with leaders, with centers of influence and with those that can help build your network.

But you can also use LinkedIn as a platform to share your expertise. You can be a voice in groups that share your interests. For example – click on the LI group for Tech Savvy Women. Reach out to others in the group to learn from them, ask them advice or just check out their visibility.

Each day LinkedIn lets you know of special work anniversaries, new positions and career changes of those in your network. Take a few minutes to reach out to them. Keep your name in front of those in your network and in your industry.

Share articles that you find of interest. Don’t just share the link but actually start a conversation. If you found something of particular interest – write that in your status up and pose a question. When people respond – engage them in conversation.

Lastly, use the blog/article function of LinkedIn. Write articles that demonstrate your abilities your experiences and your best practices. Share lessons learned – these are articles that will be visible to your network but also thousands of others around the country looking for information about your topic.

You don’t have to actively be seeking a new position to find value with LinkedIn. In fact, I believe that is just a minor benefit of this business platform. If being visible is something you desire – LinkedIn is a great place to start outside your own company.

However, you also need to be visible within your own organization. Speak up in meetings by offering your thoughts and suggestions. Remember that if you are going to criticize, you should offer up an alternative solution.

Raise your hand to be included. I wonder if the three women that Tracy Chadwell, founder of 1843 Capital thinks would be a great CEO for Uber have raised their hands. It may be the reason the next women CEO of Uber will be a man is because only men stepped forward and asked to be considered. I don’t know. But I do know that if you don’t let people know you are here – it will be hard for them to realize that on their own.

JJ DiGeronimo JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.

Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.accelerate your impact

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