Women Working in Tech: The Softer Side.

➡ This article isn’t about the ‘well-known’ tech roles we see like coding or engineering.

✅ This is about the skillsets and roles that are so integral within technology, yet are not talked about enough.

They are usually coined as “softer skills” because they are less technical, more people and process driven. The roles tend to get things done, get people progressing and aligning budgets. These skills are required for the fundamental success of any IT department thus, a successful organisation.

I am talking about Change, Transformation and Improvements. Service Delivery, Customer Service and Strategy. Projects Management, Business Analysis and Design.

We often miss the point when we talk about Women in Tech. We are so busy pushing that technical agenda we forget about the other side of the coin.

We all know that we are crying out for women to explore a career in tech. But, I can’t help to wonder, are we putting women off STEM subjects because we are too fixated on the coding and technical elements? And, what about the women who don’t want to do the technical stuff but find the industry fascinating?

Skill gaps

Beyoncé said “If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose.”

The same applies within technology. If we continue to hire the same type of people, from the same degree type and university, and so forth. We will never have a diverse teams.

If we continue to play the same tune that to work in tech you need to have Computer Science Major or be able to code a programme. We will just end up with a team full of techies who have aspecific mindset which is often very focused on problem solving and fixing. Not a bad thing, but what do you see what is missing?

We also need:

People Management 💡 Servant Leaders to maximise the team capacity and ability.

Support and maintenance 🚀 Increase Service Delivery capabilities to structure key processes, support end-users and even look at budgets.

Progress 🔁 Invoke a Continuous Improvement mentality. Streamlining and creating processes that are fit for purpose so teams can be: efficient, effective, and productive.

Implementation ⚡ Have a strong team of Project Managers to implement the new service/software/product/programme…

Strategy 🎬 Taking the business and teams on a journey with change and transformation.

These are just a handful of skills and roles that make up a successful IT tower. What would you add?

Stop holding us back!

Reflecting on the roles I have held throughout my career. I realised, that I was never offered opportunities to step into Project Management or even Service Delivery (that I had to do that myself). I was constantly forced down a route of engineering or third line level programming. And, in turn, it made me incredibly miserable. It wasn’t playing to my strengths or values. I was so lost at one point, I looked to leave the career path I was on, to do a role outside of the IT department.

I know I am not alone. I have read articles and heard similar stories. And, the number one phrase I hear when coaching and mentoring Women in Tech is “I can’t do ‘this’, because I am not technical enough!”

‘This’ tends to be applying for an IT Project Management job or feeling like an imposter when working with someone who only talks in code.

However the underlying causes often comes back to 2 career crumbling things:

  1. Poor line management: If you have worked or are working for someone who isn’t an out the box thinker, bit of a narcist and has-been-promoted-into-a-role-they-aren’t-ready-for… then you are not going to even have the confidence to explore your tech career options (trust me, I’ve been there).

➡ If this is you, I would invite you to explore mentoring or coaching or even counselling.*

2. There isn’t enough knowledge out there: Do you ever find yourself reading an article that is full of jargon or attending event where everyone is basically an app developer? Well, that’s going to put you off as you can’t see yourself in that world.

➡ If this resonated with you, I recommend checking out networking events to expand your tech career knowledge. *

So what now?

Join me in showing the world that women can work in tech in different guises. You can do this by either answering a paper based interview which will be posted on my website or by joining me on YouTube and LinkedIn Live where I will asking you the questions to get your honest answers…

Get in touch: lucy@lucygrimwade.com

*Resources?

  • Mentoring: Reed Women in Tech Mentoring. Reach out to Kevin Dainty on LinkedIn.
  • Coaching: Find the right coach for you here.
  • Counselling/Therapy: Speak to your GP about your options.

Networking events:

  • Women of Silicon Roundabout
  • Karen Brady’s Women in Business and Tech
  • Checkout Meet-up for localised events.
Retaining Female Talent in Tech

Retaining Female Talent in Tech

Problem: companies don’t retain their female tech talent.

Research shows that:

  • 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice. *
  • 5% of leadership positions in the tech sector are held by women. *
  • 50% of women leave their tech careers at the age of 35. **

“I left because the environment did not support me as a woman of color nor as a professional. I was intentionally left off of emails that were critical to doing my job, talked over in meetings, talked down to, and excluded from social events.”**

“The majority of women who stay in tech (73%) said they considered leaving their tech careers at some point because of limited opportunity for advancement (27%), unfair compensation compared with male peers (25%), and little support of management (22%), the report found.” ***

The more articles I read, the four common themes kept resurfacing.

  • Gender pay gap
  • Discrimination
  • Lack of opportunities
  • Tech jobs are not desirable.

Solution: better working and educated cultures.

There is a responsibility for all organisations to consider their culture. Is DE&I at the heart of their value system? And do they support and encourage internal groups like Women in Tech or Diversity in Tech, to give a fair platform for their staff.

This isn’t a tick box exercise. Ensure those groups have funding as well as the capacity to support.

Organisations can educate themselves on diversity topics by allowing their staff to:

  • Attend and have a presence at networking events.
  • Be involved in think tanks and hackathons.
  • Invest by bringing in expert companies and people to coach their staff.

With so many resources, there really is no excuse for ignorance.

Companies need to be transparent with regards to pay, use gender neutral language on job specs and use their social media platforms to market their own women in tech forums.

And Management… they need to become leaders and support personal and professional development. Learning and development is key to empowering teams, growing an individual and the success to an organisation. By ensuring and securing budget for training and opening channels for staff to learn technical and industry skills — this will be the start of a journey for many to follow.

What are your thoughts?

References:

*PWC Women in Tech Time to close the gender gap

**19 Women shared why they are quitting their tech jobs

*** Why more than half of women leave the tech industry?