We know that there are barriers for women in technology, from hiring and promotional bias to pretty awful cultural issues, making the day to day environment hard going. I could go on and on about the ugly underbelly and about the fact the system is stacked but I am not going to do that because it isn’t going to help you at your desk today. Firms must fix the systemic elements but in the meantime, and whether you like it or not women have to pioneer and keep going.
But, we can reward the good firms by going to work for them. Give your business and your talent to people who deserve it.
Get out if your firm’s culture is totally toxic. If that seems like not the right choice for you, realise nothing is perfect and that you can find ways to be the change leader or work with the change agents if you can identify them. Easier said than done and this is dependent on three things that you need to look at.
Firstly, your desire to be the person who created the change (history tells us it is rarely at no personal or emotional cost). Dig deep and see if it’s in your personality to do this work. It will involve all sorts of things including smart power, conflict and conflict resolution. I was often the hammer in the the glass hammer and I have learned that there are other ways of tackling problems and the hammer is held for special occasions only as I am all too ready to pick it up and whack a mole (what rhymes with mole?). Look at what is natural for you and then do a 180 and look at what is not naturally within your skill set and understand you will need both for change leadership.
Secondly, on the context of the situation, how change ready is the environment? There are ways to test this and a simple question to a leader will tell you as much as you need to know. A question such as, “How would you explain how we do what we do here to a new person?” Listen to their response carefully, as it is in their digestion of the ‘how’ and ‘by whom’ work gets done and what gets rewarded behaviorally that you will know where they are at in their own diversity journey. Ask them, what do they think their vision is for the team?
Thirdly, what systems or policies and procedures are in place to make the culture a good place to work for all humans regardless of your biological status?
There are some amazing women in technology out there – some in big firms and some in firms that they have started. Women who code just announced their winners this past week.
We have held many career events for women in technology round navigating the terrain. Like any career planning advice, or in fact coaching advice i can give you, you need to know what you want, understand what is consciously and unconsciously stopping you, then go for it. Be the change you want to see in the world!